Quote of the day: Robert G. Ingersoll #2

Again, from Ingersoll’s “The Gods,” (1872), free online.

The passages below resonate for me because I am only 25 pages from the end of the Bible—and am feeling great relief. After plowing through the four contradictory canonical gospels, and now the epistles of Paul, I am soon to be on Revelation, and then: IT IS FINISHED! And when I read the last verse tomorrow and say, “Thank God,” I won’t mean it in the same way as the faithful.

I must say that although Paul’s attempt to keep the Mediterranean Christians in line was diligent, he also tried to keep women in line—and behind the men. His famous orders that women should keep silent in church (and elsewhere, too) are, of course, regularly ignored by most modern Christian and Jewish congregations. And this shows, more than anything else, that the Bible is man made.  One can respond, “Well, Paul was expressing the sexism of his time,” but that’s not an adequate answer, for the Bible is supposed to be either written by or inspired by God. Why couldn’t God look ahead at our modern world, where we’ve finally realized the moral equality of the sexes, and simply say, “Verily I say unto you, women and men shall be as equals in Christ, and respect one another”?

I’d like to hear how some more conservative churches that allow women to preach deal with this passage. I’m sure they just ignore it, but they can’t write it off as a metaphor.

But I digress: on to Ingersoll on both the Old and New Testaments. Ingersoll first discusses the Old Testament’s episodes of genocide and slavery:

One of these gods, and one who demands our love, our admiration and our worship, and one who is worshiped, if mere heartless ceremony is worship, gave to his chosen people for their guidance, the following laws of war: “When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it. And it shall be if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee. And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it. And when the Lord thy God hath delivered it into thy hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword. But the women and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself, and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies which the Lord thy God hath given thee. Thus shalt thou do unto all the cities which are very far off from thee, which are not of the cities of these nations. But of the cities of these people which the Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth.”

Is it possible for man to conceive of anything more perfectly infamous? Can you believe that such directions were given by any being except an infinite fiend? Remember that the army receiving these instructions was one of invasion. Peace was offered upon condition that the people submitting should be the slaves of the invader; but if any should have the courage to defend their homes, to fight for the love of wife and child, then the sword was to spare none — not even the prattling, dimpled babe.

Shortly thereafter, Ingersoll decries the doctrines of heaven and hell, and the very concept of a sacred book. He reminds me of a hybrid between Hitchens and Mencken:

We are asked to justify these frightful passages, these infamous laws of war, because the Bible is the word of God. As a matter of fact, there never was, and there never can be, an argument even tending to prove the inspiration of any book whatever. In the absence of positive evidence, analogy and experience, argument is simply impossible, and at the very best, can amount only to a useless agitation of the air. The instant we admit that a book is too sacred to be doubted, or even reasoned about, we are mental serfs. It is infinitely absurd to suppose that a god would Address a communication to intelligent beings, and yet make it a crime, to be punished in eternal flames, for them to use their intelligence for the purpose of understanding his communication. If we have the right to use our reason, we certainly have the right to act in accordance with it, and no god can have the right to punish us for such action.

The doctrine that future happiness depends upon belief is monstrous. It is the infamy of infamies. The notion that faith in Christ is to be rewarded by an eternity of bliss, while a dependence upon reason, observation and experience merits everlasting pain, is too absurd for refutation, and can be relieved only by that unhappy mixture of insanity and ignorance, called “faith.” What man, who ever thinks, can believe that blood can appease God? And yet, our entire system of religion is based upon that believe. The Jews pacified Jehovah with the blood of animals, and according to the Christian system, the blood of Jesus softened the heart of God a little, and rendered possible the salvation of a fortunate few. It is hard to conceive how the human mind can give assent to such terrible ideas, or how any sane man can read the Bible and still believe in the doctrine of inspiration.

The dude could write. Those who long for the return of “Old Atheism,” saying that it was less strident and more knowledgeable about scripture, haven’t read Ingersoll!

128 Comments

  1. Posted January 10, 2013 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    I’ve long enjoyed reading Ingersoll, and “The Gods” is one of my favourite pieces by him.

  2. Posted January 10, 2013 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Agree completely. What a great find thanks.

  3. TJR
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    These new atheists like Richard Dawkins just aren’t strident enough.

  4. gbjames
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    I love that definition of faith: “that unhappy mixture of insanity and ignorance”.

    • Posted January 10, 2013 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

      Now, now, some people have such difficult lives, nothing like the cushy lives elite academics have, and therefore, ‘an unhappy mixture of insanity and ignorance’ is what theologians must make palatable for this sorry lot who apparently can’t hope for anything better.

      Ingersoll’s definition of faith is perfect and is now committed to memory.

    • Marella
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

      My favourite bit too.

  5. Greg Peterson
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Pedantic, I know, but if you call the last book “Revelations,” some a-hole fundamentalist will claim you “don’t know your Bible.” It’s Revelation–as in “The Revelation to St. John.”

    I know, I know. But I’ve seen that be an issue. When you think your wacky book is magically delicious, trivia seems really to matter.

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      Fixed, thanks; I hadn’t gotten there yet.

      • Posted January 10, 2013 at 11:34 am | Permalink

        I won’t spoil the ending by quoting you the final verses… but just to whet your appetite — those last couple of verses are extremely pornographic. Esp. in the motel versions – perhaps less so in the King James version.

        • Kevin
          Posted January 10, 2013 at 11:43 am | Permalink

          Spoiler Alert! The last word is

          “Amen”.

          • Greg Peterson
            Posted January 10, 2013 at 11:57 am | Permalink

            I think the best thing ever written about Revelation comes from Doug Adams in “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency”:

            “Did you know, young lady,” said Watkin to her, “that the Book of Revelation was written on Patmos? It was indeed. By Saint John the Divine, as you know. To me it shows very clear signs of having been written while waiting for a ferry. Oh, yes, I think so. It starts off, doesn’t it, with that kind of dreaminess you get when you’re killing time, getting bored, you know, just making things up, and then gradually grows to a sort
            of climax of hallucinatory despair. I find that very suggestive. Perhaps you should write a paper on it.” He nodded at her.

    • TJR
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      See also Mary Hopkin.

      • Daryl
        Posted January 10, 2013 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

        Glory! A Half Man Half Biscuit fan on the WEIT blog. I’m not alone.

        • Mark
          Posted January 10, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

          oh 2 more cents… (and thanks for indulging me to speak.. I’m certainly don’t consider myself an authority on these subjects)

          The bible account of creation uses terms like 7 “days”, “God created man from the dust of the Earth”, etc. In my opinion these are no terms that oppose the idea of some form of evolution but rather explain creation to a culture 3500 years ago in terms that they could understand. But for me, God is behind it. Just as a seed has the “blueprint” of the tree that it will become and yet looks nothing like a tree to begin with God has orchestrated the “growth” of the Universe from the beginning, according to His plan. Again, 7 days may have been 7 Billion years (or 7 something), etc.

          The bible speaks of sickness but doesn’t mention bacteria or virus. This doesn’t mean that God didn’t reveal the fact that bacteria or virus is the cause of many sicknesses… because we now know through the God-given ability of reason, and discovery, and invention.

          Anyway, not even sure why I got an email with a link to this thread this morning but thanks.

          Now you can ask, “who the HECK invited this guy??” LOL

          • truthspeaker
            Posted January 11, 2013 at 11:30 am | Permalink

            Wouldn’t it make more sense to conclude that the Bible uses those terms, not because God was trying to make it understandable to people living in that time period, but because it was written by people living in that time period?

        • Mark
          Posted January 10, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

          The bible account of creation uses terms like 7 “days”, “God created man from the dust of the Earth”, etc. In my opinion these are no terms that oppose the idea of some form of evolution but rather explain creation to a culture 3500 years ago in terms that they could understand. But for me, God is behind it. Just as a seed has the “blueprint” of the tree that it will become and yet looks nothing like a tree to begin with God has orchestrated the “growth” of the Universe from the beginning, according to His plan. Again, 7 days may have been 7 Billion years (or 7 something), etc.

          The bible speaks of sickness but doesn’t mention bacteria or virus. This doesn’t mean that God didn’t reveal the fact that bacteria or virus is the cause of many sicknesses… because we now know through the God-given ability of reason, and discovery, and invention.

          Anyway, not even sure why I got an email with a link to this thread this morning but thanks.

          Now you can ask, “who the HECK invited this guy??” LOL

          • Posted January 10, 2013 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

            Once was quite enough.

          • Diane G.
            Posted January 10, 2013 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

            . . . because we now know through the God-given ability of reason, and discovery, and invention.

            Uh, then why was the apple in Eden such a big hairy deal?

  6. Mark
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Hi friend, your siting that there are those who claim the bible is the “word of God” is likely from a Western Protestant viewpoint.

    An Eastern Orthodox Christian viewpoint is as such:

    “The Bible is called the written Word of God. This does not mean that the Bible fell from heaven ready made. Neither does this mean that God dictated the Bible word for word to men who were merely His passive instruments. It means that God has revealed Himself as the true and living God to His People, and that as one aspect of His divine self-revelation God inspired His People to produce scriptures, i.e., writings which constitute the true and genuine expressions of His Truth and His Will for His People and for the whole world.

    The words of the Bible are human words, for indeed, all words are human. They are human words, however, which God Himself inspired to be written in order to remain as the scriptural witness to Himself. As human words, the words of the Bible contain all of the marks of the men who wrote them, and of the time and the culture in which they were written. Nevertheless, in the full integrity of their human condition and form, the words of the Bible are truly the very Word of God.

    The Bible is truly the Word of God in human form because its origin is not in man but in God, Who willed and inspired its creation. In this sense, the Bible is not like any other book. In the Bible, in and through the words of men, one finds the self-revelation of God and can come to a true and genuine knowledge of Him and His will and purpose for man and the world. In and through the Bible, human persons can enter into communion with God.

    All scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Tim 3:16-17).

    It is the faith of the Orthodox Church that the Bible, as the divinely-inspired Word of God in the words of men, contains no formal errors or inner contradictions concerning the relationship between God and the world. There may be incidental inaccuracies of a non-essential character in the Bible. But the eternal spiritual and doctrinal message of God, presented in the Bible in many different ways, remains perfectly consistent, authentic, and true.”

    With that said there are LANGUAGE, CULTURAL, and “mode of thinking” problems with a modern westerner simply “reading his bible” and forming an opinion.

    First, only the ORIGINAL Septuagint Greek would be considered the “word of God” and the bible that you’re reading is likely NOT the word of God even in the sense described above, but rather an ENGLISH TRANSLATION of the ‘word of God’, and yet still in light of what was described above.

    Also, let’s talk “Sola Scriptura”, which in Latin means, “Scripture alone”. This is a VERY widely accepted concept in Western, Protestant Christianity. For Orthodoxy Christianity Sola Scriptura is a foreign concept because it was not necessary for the Christian east, as the Protestant reformers saw it necessary for the Christian West due to their breaking away from the Roman Catholic Church. For the East the Christian life and teachings are not solely wrapped up in the Canonized books of the bible alone but also in the teachings of the Church Fathers (the Apostles and those who succeeded them). These are recognized as having authority to articulate the life of the Church and mysteries of God. Recognized as true Theologians by revelation of the Spirit, not merely one who studies theology and therefore gains a title, “Theologian”, etc. Please excuse that crude definition. The Bible is also understood through the Church Fathers, the Cannons and Traditions of the Church, and also the 7 Ecumenical Councils that took place over the first 800 years of Church History, and not merely using scripture to interpret scripture. This leaves some room for expansion beyond scripture – not to oppose or negate scripture, it MUST be in line with the Canonized Bible, but rather the life of the Church and the Christian, the understanding of God is not solely confined to the Bible.

    The Bible was canonized at the Council at Carthage in 325 AD. If Sola Scriptura was valid that would mean that Christians didn’t have the right understanding for the first 325 years of Church history. In other words for example not everyone had access to the letter Paul wrote to the Ephesians, that letter was at Ephesus, etc. The teachings were oral and passed via Tradition. As a side not icons were also used as they are stories of the bible in a picture form, as much of the populations could not read until much much later. This way anyone could walk into a church and “read” the stories in picture form. Also note that when Luther translated the bible into German in 1534 he left out 7 of the original 73 books.. Maccabees 1 and 2, Ruth, Esther, Sirach, Wisdom (and I can’t think of the 7th at the moment). If Luther was thinking in terms of Sola Scriptura in the way much of modern Protestantism does then he likely would not have excluded those books from the bible.
    There are also language barriers in understanding scripture. As an Orthodox Christian I would not say that the Bible is the inspired, infallible Word of God but rather a TRANSLATION OF the inspired, infallible Word of God. This is an EXTREMELY important distinction that must be made and, next to Sola Scriptura, the main reason for literally thousands of denominations and independent churches due to so many varied interpretations of scripture.
    For example: John 16:13 says, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth”. There’s no plural word for “you” in the English language (except slang, like “y’all” or terms like “you all” or “you guys”). The original word in that verse is plural for “you”. So as a post-modern, Western (independent) thinking, English speaking/reading American we read that as if Jesus is telling us directly that the Spirit will lead us as an individual into all truth apart from the rest of the Church, or independent of anyone else, when really He’s saying the Spirit will lead y’all (or “you guys”) into all truth. We also read it, as we do with much scripture, as if he’s addressing us, the reader, personally even though he was speaking directly to the Apostles and we weren’t standing there with them at the time. These language and cultural (and mindset) barriers contribute to so many splits that have led to the many thousands of denominations and independent Protestant churches.. each reader of scripture believing that they have the Holy Spirit to interpret scripture independent of each other and independent of the Traditional interpretations of the historical Church and the teachings of the Church Fathers and Ecumenical Councils. Along with Sola Scriptura this creates disconnectedness from the foundational teachings of the predecessors of the Apostles and the wisdom of the Church Councils. Does this mean that the Holy Spirit doesn’t guide the lives of each individual Christian filled with the Spirit? No.. but not to create Theology and doctrine apart from the others and the historical Church.

    Then there’s the whole OTHER issue of translation to english from the masoretic hebrew rather than the Septuagint Greek. The Protestant old testament was translated from masoretic but Paul would have been reading the Septuagint (LXX). this is the reason why Paul can quote something from the OT and it seems different when you flip back to the OT and read the original. I has a pastor once tell me, “see… paul took the liberty to paraphrase” (this pastor was trying to use scripture to enforce some crazy idea). but NO.. in reality Paul didn’t misquote or paraphrase, it’s a transnational issue.

    There are also examples like The Roman Catholic church putting Galileo under house arrest for 2 years because Galileo said the Earth goes around the Sun and the church disagreed and called him a heretic because the bible says that Joshua commanded the Sun to stand still and they said this meant the sun goes around the earth. Well we all know Galileo was right.. My point is that WE (and they), as moderners can read the scripture from a scientific standpoint when the point of the story, even though it was an act of God and God-inspired it to be written, is not to unveil scientific reality but rather a spiritual reality and the principle that God caused Israel to prevail in that battle, and He did it miraculously.

    Anyway, I can go on but I’m out of time. I wish you the best and always enjoy seeing intelligent people seeking truth.

    • NoAstronomer
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 10:49 am | Permalink

      There’s not one word in that whole pile of …(remember the rulez Michael) … stuff that even comes close to answering the basic question that Jerry asks in his 3rd paragraph.

      In fact you contradict yourself in your own fifth paragraph. Is the bible the Word of God or not?

      That is not a false dichotomy. It either is or it is not.

      Mike.

    • gbjames
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 11:02 am | Permalink

      “Anyway, I can go on but I’m out of time.”

      Can I get an “amen”?

    • H.H.
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 11:17 am | Permalink

      The issue isn’t whether the bible is a contradictory mess with multiple interpretations. We are already quite aware that it is. The issue is when people claim to know the correct interpretation, which is something they can’t actually know. So the real issue is not with the text, but with the delusion of believers who claim to have a special insight into it.

      • Marella
        Posted January 10, 2013 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

        believers who claim to have a special insight into it.

        Which is all of them apparently.

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      TL;DR

      You lost me at “Hi, friend,…”.

      • Posted January 10, 2013 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

        That just about did it for me; “siting” for “citing” sealed the deal.

        • Mark
          Posted January 11, 2013 at 10:17 am | Permalink

          “” “siting” for “citing” sealed the deal.:”.. so a typo and you can’t read the rest? there are two kinds of Atheists, 1) looking for the truth 2) the angry/bitter one that is NOT looking for truth but wants to not acknowledge God no matter what.

          • gbjames
            Posted January 11, 2013 at 10:20 am | Permalink

            Actually, there is no difference between the two “types” you posit.

            Oh… and we’re still waiting to learn how you know these things to be true and why we should think you have identified the right god to run on about.

          • Posted January 11, 2013 at 10:57 am | Permalink

            Yes, we’re still waiting for an explanation of how you know the xian god is the correct one, if one exists at all.

            But props for at least sticking around and reading comments.

            No, typos don’t alter my evaluation of content. However, there are typos, and then there are instances of ignorance. “Siting” falls into the latter category. While this still wouldn’t cause me to dismiss something automatically, it certainly doesn’t help with first impressions.

    • Kevin
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 11:45 am | Permalink

      Good grief, what gibbering nonsense.

    • Kevin
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 11:59 am | Permalink

      Just about the only “truth” I think the entire bible offers is something along the lines of “people who live in a hot climate without ice should probably eschew shellfish.”

      And even that’s a modern interpretation.

    • steve oberski
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      The top and bottom of your comment are too far apart.

      • gbjames
        Posted January 10, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

        LOL

      • Posted January 10, 2013 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

        +1

      • steve oberski
        Posted January 10, 2013 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

        With apologies to Ambrose Bierce.

    • Greg Peterson
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

      Wow. I actually made it as far as the reference to the “ORIGINAL Septuagint Greek” being considered “the word of God” more than our English translations would before I realizd how..yes, yes, the rulez…uninformed, let’s say…this writer is. The Septuagint is precisely a translation, the name itself coming from the tradition that 70 scholars translated the Hebrew scriptures into Greek. From them we get the MIS-translation of “maiden” or “young woman” into the word for “virgin,” resulting in an adorable “prophecy.”

      People who understand so little of their subject matter should perhaps keep remarks pithy.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      TL;DR. Is that a comprehensive response to Jerry, or yet another example of terrible ideas?

    • steve oberski
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

      This could be a test comment from our website host to see how well we abide by the rulez.

      • gbjames
        Posted January 10, 2013 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

        Ah Ha! We’re on to you Jerry!

    • marycanada FCD
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

      WARNING! Mental Serf on the loose!

    • JC Kotze
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

      Hi Mark, The Bible is a micture of superstitious fiction, historical facts and historical lies.

      Your thorough analyses of the history part history is at best interesting.

      Your analyses of fiction does not make the Bible less fictious or more credible – which was the purpose of your post…

      Somehow godbots get this..

  7. Timothy Hughbanks
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    25 pages from the end of the bible! Don’t ruin the ending for me; do we need a spoiler alert?

  8. Posted January 10, 2013 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    the way that Christians ignore the bits about how women shouldn’t speak in church?

    “Paul meant those parts just for fill-in-the-bank old church. We don’t have to follow them. Oh but golly, he really did mean the hate all homosexual parts, why that’s meant for all of us!”

    you know, hypocrisy as usual

  9. Posted January 10, 2013 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    the way that Christians ignore the bits about how women shouldn’t speak in church?

    “Paul meant those parts just for fill-in-the-bank old church. We don’t have to follow them. Oh but golly, he really did mean the hate all homosexual parts, why that’s meant for all of us!”

    you know, hypocrisy as usual. As for an “eastern orthodox viewpoint”, it just is one more bunch of Christians making excuses and cherry picking their bible on what they want their god to have “really meant”. Nothing differnt from the rest of them. I guess since translation problems are used as an excuse, Mark, that means your god is rather impotent if it can’t make itself clear to us puny humans.

  10. eric
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Is it possible for man to conceive of anything more perfectly infamous?

    Some early Christians DID recognize that the commands given by God to the Hebrews in the OT were fiendish. That resulted in a number of early Christian sects deciding that Jesus and the OT Yahweh must not be the same being. The church dealt with such ideas by wiping them out.

    So yes, its possible. Now, its hard to say exactly why the church we ended up with was the winner in these early conflicts, but I put this to you: when faction A thinks it is just and Godly to execute the members of faction B – because God has commanded such things in the past – while B thinks executing A’s is an evil an abhorrent act, then there is an obvious explanation as to why faction A then grows while B shrinks.

    • John Scanlon, FCD
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      As the early Christian community grew, they needed to swarm occasionally because their lack of attention to the things of the morrow made them noxious parasites that quickly overran the local resources. When the time came to swarm, they drew straws to decide which of two factions each would join, flipped coins to decide what bizarre and monstrous assertions each faction would believe, and then drew swords to see which would be allowed to live…

    • Diane G.
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

      Which, unfortunately, tends to frame “A” thinking as adaptive.

  11. Posted January 10, 2013 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Those who long for the return of “Old Atheism,” saying that it was less strident and more knowledgeable about scripture, haven’t read Ingersoll!

    The old atheists were strident on the op-ed pages of elitist newspapers that most folk didn’t read. The new atheists are strident on youtube videos that have a far broader audience.

    • Diane G.
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

      Ingersoll drew huge crowds on the speech circuit. W/o things like the internet on which to waste time, people actually went to things like that, back then.

      • Sastra
        Posted January 10, 2013 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

        Newspapers often reprinted Ingersoll’s speeches (in full!) He was widely read by ordinary folk.

        When people wax nostalgic for the “old atheists” who were better than the gnu ones, they usually aren’t thinking of Ingersoll or Joseph McCabe (another pop atheist.) They’re thinking about academics like Nietzsche, Russell, or someone read mostly by philosophers and scholars. The best atheists either stay away from — or are imagined to stay away from — making arguments for the general public.

        The Little People can’t handle the truth, and need special protection.

        • Posted January 10, 2013 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

          Russell was just as high-profile in his day as Dawkins is today.

          • John Scanlon, FCD
            Posted January 11, 2013 at 2:20 am | Permalink

            …and jailed for conscientious objection during WWI, which few academics risk these days.

            • Posted January 12, 2013 at 12:21 am | Permalink

              Well it didn’t hurt to have a hereditary title.

  12. yellow2dog
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Remember that Ingersoll spoke these words aloud. When you read them, or have them read to you (Available for free at Librivox.org) there is a majestic power to them, a voice ringing from this very nation’s past that faith in gods is not justified. Great listening for car trips, because Ingersoll makes you *think*.

    • Kurtis Rader
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the librivox.org pointer. I love listening to podcasts and audiobooks while walking my dogs since that’s an hour and half each day that I can be “reading”. I hope the readers of Mr. Ingersoll’s writings bring them to life.

    • marycanada FCD
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the link

  13. vall
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    I love this part:
    ” In the absence of positive evidence, analogy and experience, argument is simply impossible, and at the very best, can amount only to a useless agitation of the air. “

    • Maleekwa
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      I can say that Ted Delorme does an outstanding reading of Ingersoll’s works (they are on Librivox). They have taken up permanent residence on my iPod.

  14. DV
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    The problem with Ingersoll is that he lived in the time before YouTube.

    • John Scanlon, FCD
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      Also the problem with Shakespeare, which is why Lear runs more than three minutes.

      • steve oberski
        Posted January 10, 2013 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

        And has more than 140 characters.

        • truthspeaker
          Posted January 11, 2013 at 11:32 am | Permalink

          Dad’s crazy; let’s GTFO.

          • Diane G.
            Posted January 11, 2013 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

            ROFL!!

  15. Wolfkiller
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Regarding sexism… in my encounters, the faithful only partially ignore it. Guy I work with insists that although women and men are “different,” one isn’t better than the other. He subscribes to the whole men are the bread winners and women are supposed to either not work and stay home, or at the very least have an insignificant low paying part time job. Anything that they do ignore gets the old CONTEXT! excuse. Because hey, those rules were right for the time. Hence why stoning people was all good but now, not so much.

  16. JohnJay
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    I love reading Ingersoll. Here’s a short quote from “Individuality” (1873):

    “Nearly all people stand in great horror of annihilation, and yet to give up your individuality is to annihilate yourself. Mental slavery is mental death, and every man who has given up his intellectual freedom is the living coffin of his dead soul. In this sense, every church is a cemetery and every creed an epitaph.”

    • Diane G.
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

      Wonderful!

    • marycanada FCD
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

      Wow! Thanks for posting

  17. Kevin
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Bertrand Russell is also worth a look at.

    In fact, there’s even YouTube video of him that survives. This one’s fantastic…

    • Kevin
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      Sorry, I screwed up the coding…ARGH!!!

    • thh1859
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      Russell says in that clip,”Religious people think it’s a virtuous act to tell lies about deathbed conversions of agnostics and so on…”

      Out of curiosity, I attended an “Alpha” course (do you have them in the US?). The speaker, in his introduction, said that Bertrand Russell,just before he died,renounced his atheism and accepted the divinity of Jesus. My intake of breath was so sharp and loud, those in front turned and stared at me. Porkissimus maximus.

      • truthspeaker
        Posted January 11, 2013 at 11:33 am | Permalink

        Yes, we do have Alpha courses here.

  18. Posted January 10, 2013 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Ingersoll was great. When talking about the commands about war as given in the old testament he asks, what would the devil do.
    On the new testament, he says interestingly that if salvation dependent on faith alone, Matthew would have mention, Luke would have said something about and Mark surely could have heard it and concludes that christianity is based on interpolation. I surely like hos works!

  19. Posted January 10, 2013 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Jerry Coyne wrote:

    After plowing through the four contradictory canonical gospels, and now the epistles of Paul …

    For what it’s worth, there is debate within the academic community about which epistles of Paul were actually written by Paul and which were attributed to Paul but written by someone else:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authorship_of_the_Pauline_epistles

  20. Posted January 10, 2013 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    I can answer how churches deal with the “women keep silent” passages. :)

    Basically, the authenticity of those passages is debated (not just by theologians; secular scholars bring this up as well). In early manuscripts those passages get transposed into different locations, which leads scholars to question whether they were part of the original text or margin glosses that were inserted inconsistently in later copies. There is also some textual analysis issues with the vocabulary in those not matching up with the rest of Paul’s known writings.

    This would be one of the reasons why there are so very many bible translations and the translations are full of asterisks and footnotes.

    • Gary W
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      Which makes one wonder why God would rely on such a confusing and contested form of communication to spread His Word. Why didn’t he just plant his teachings directly in our heads, so that his existence and wishes are as clear and universally accepted as the sun in the sky?

  21. Mark
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    The books that were compiled together in AD 325 that we call the Bible is one of God’s ways of communicating His word to humans through humans and therefore the word of God in that sense… in the sense that it’s His “word” or “communication”, but this does not mean that it was not written by humans and devoid of humanity’s culture and condition at the time it was written. This is why the Orthodox Church does not embrace the concept of Sola Scriptura (scripture only), because as time progresses humanity does as well, and therefore God would communicate in various ways along the way as has been for 2000 years through other writings of the Orthodox Church.

    For example… the Creation story in Genesis… God was communicating that in a way to be understood when it was written 3500 years ago. These people didn’t know what we do now. Again, the science of it is not the main point but rather the fact that it was created by God. Also, 7 days was probably not 7, 24hr periods of time, but rather 7 “eras” or spans of time that these things were created, etc, etc.

    “As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.”

    Men and women have very distinct responsibilities within the Church contrary to what many believe, the woman’s role and function is no less than the man’s but it is clearly different.

    Here’s an excerpt from an article on the subject called, “The Role of Women in the Eastern Orthodox Church”:
    “Although men and women were equal in God’s eyes, a man was a man and a woman should thus remain a woman. Each of the sexes had a specific function to fulfill in terms of God’s plan. Women had to wear a veil so as not to dishonour their head who is man. Furthermore, according to 1 Corinthians 14:1-40, Paul insists that order must be maintained during worship and that “the woman should keep silence in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak (lalein)” but rather “keep silence” (sigan, vv.34-35). If women wish to know anything they should ask their husbands at home. This probably arises due to the habit of women to ask questions of those who were functioning in the Gifts which resulted in worship being disturbed and disrupted. Timothy backs this up in Timothy 2:11, where he asserts “let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness”. In both 1 Timothy 2 and 1 Corinthians 11, we see that male and female have distinct divinely appointed places in the order of Creation. This mode of thinking was very much in line with the Jewish mentality which according to Mosaic Law did not give great value to the witness of women in terms of religious issues.”

    The article goes on to site many great women mentioned in the bible, and things that they did, and points out that women are no less valuable than men in God’s economy (way too much to go into here to validate that point).

    The Church does not allow women Priests but certainly allows women to teach and speak in the Church. These are different times and humanity as a whole is supposed to be in progression.

    I suppose however someone who is of the mindset that the bible was DICTATED to humans by God and has no “human-ness” in it, and is of the “scripture only” camp ignoring 2000 years of Church interpretation, writings, history, and revelation would surmise that we should adhere to the culture of 1st century Palestine and address society accordingly.

    A Christian woman who is comfortable being who they are in the order of nature, and men who are comfortable being who they are in the order of nature would be fine with these things because the height of Christianity is humility, so it’s no big deal. In other words the fact that a woman cannot be a Priest, in following the tradition of the Church, and the fact that a man cannot be a good mother to a child doesn’t seem to be a problem for those in the Church, but rather more of a problem for those outside the Church in a culture that seems to have an identity crises.

    • gbjames
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

      Mark, before we get all snarled up in your over-long comments, can you tell us how you know your god is the right one and others, say Vishnu or Xipe Totec are not?

      • Mark
        Posted January 10, 2013 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

        Sorry for the over-long comments.. These are complex issues. :-)

        I’m stopping, seriously.. I feel like the Pittsburgh Steelers fan that someone invited to the Seattle Seahawks fan club party LOL

        Well gbjames, I can’t tell you that, nor would I tell anyone they’re “going to hell” because they and I don’t understand God in the same way I do. Because in fact it’s impossible to conceptualize the infinite, so any concept no matter how grand would fall short of understanding Him fully.

        I, as I’m sure everyone else in here, am doing my best to understand the truth.

        • gbjames
          Posted January 10, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

          I, as I’m sure everyone else in here, am doing my best to understand the truth.

          You can do far better than that.

          The fact that you are unable to justify believing in your-version-of-the-deity rather than Xipe Totec indicates that you have a whole lot of basic study to do. I’d suggest learning a bit more about the thousands of incompatible religious beliefs that humans have indulged in over the millennia. Then come back and let us know why your’s is the right one.

        • Rain
          Posted January 10, 2013 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

          “I, as I’m sure everyone else in here, am doing my best to understand the truth.”

          I don’t believe it for a second. Mostly because of statements like this:

          “For example… the Creation story in Genesis… God was communicating that in a way to be understood when it was written 3500 years ago.”

          There’s no way you could possibly know that for sure, not even a little bit, yet there you are declaring it like it’s the plainest thing ever since sliced bread. That isn’t doing your best to “understand the truth.” It’s more like doing your best cheerleading for the home team. Go team go, ra ra ra. Maybe Nothing is so terribly wrong with pep rallies per se, but it’s hardly the path to truth and enlightenment.

        • Sastra
          Posted January 10, 2013 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

          Are you doing your best to understand the truth?

          Tell us — if your beliefs about God, Christianity, and the Orthodox Church are all mistaken and the Bible is in fact man-made and man-inspired — what would persuade you of that?

        • eric
          Posted January 10, 2013 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

          it’s impossible to conceptualize the infinite

          The set of all whole numbers. Wow, that was easy.

          Another: the infinite sum of 1/2^N where N = 1, 2, 3, 4, etc… That infinity is really easy to conceptualize, if you can do the math. Its so easy that if you get the joke, you’re probably giggling right now.

          Newton figured out tools allowing us to work with and conceptualize infinities in the 1700s. Cantor (and many later mathematicians) added some additional tools. Really, theologians and philosophers who think infinity is some ungrapplable, mystical concept are about 350 years behind in their scientific and mathematical education.

          • Mark Fuller Dillon
            Posted January 10, 2013 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

            Which would make sense, given that they’re also about 160 years behind in their biological education.

          • Mark Joseph
            Posted January 10, 2013 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

            So, an infinite number of guys walk into a bar. The first guy says to the bartender, “give me a beer.” The second guy says, “give me half a beer.” The third guy says, “give me a quarter of a beer.” The fourth guy says, “give me an eighth of a beer.”
            Whereupon the bartender says, “You’re all a bunch of idiots,” and pours two beers.

    • Greg Peterson
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      I’m really required to be civil to this? I guess I can’t comment at all. This sort of “separate but equal” (but not actually equal, becuase the man is the “head”) would fly in no other context except religious revelation. Anyone not intellectually co-opted by nonsense will see it for exactly what it is–mindless bigotry. That’s not directed at you, Mark. Why, I bet you’re a super human being–or would have been, if you were allowed to use your native empathy and reason rather than having pointless biases injected into your brain.

      And while you–perhaps by design–write way too much to respond to it all, let’s not have any malarky about days being eras, because that solves nothing in terms of the “order of creation.” LIGHT was not even first…it was millions of years after the Big Bang before light could appear. Say it’s poetry you enjoy with no connection to reality and I’ll leave you alone, but you don’t get to make unsupported, unsupportable claims and pretend there’s something profound going on. It’s just not that kind of rodeo.

      Civil enough? I tried to focus on ideas rather than on the guy. Who sure doesn’t make it easy. I mean, I have a mother, a sister, a daughter and a girlfriend and not one of them needs second-class status–despite pretty words, Mark, that’s what you’re pimping–from the age of nomadic semi-literacy to be excellent people.

      • Greg Peterson
        Posted January 10, 2013 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

        Oops. Not millions, more like 380,000 years. Still, light cannot be said to be the first thing created.

        And BTW, I can tell a four-year-old about, say, the age of dinosaurs without LYING to her and pretending that was for just a day a handful of years ago. Hell, I don’t really “know” what millions of years is in any practical sense, but if a book can refer to the sands and to stars, it can refer to big numbers without misleading the reader. That argument, that God dumbed down reality in Genesis because the people were too ignorant to understand the facts, holds no water.

        • Mark
          Posted January 10, 2013 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

          For God to explain in detail how He created the universe to the human mind in it’s current state would be impossible. Part of the process took place outside of time and space, since time and space are a created thing. Part of it still exists at this moment outside of spacetime.

          Yes, God very well may have “dumbed it down” for those people 3500 years ago, perhaps knowing that people would be intelligent enough as time progressed to discover more of the details.. 3500 years from now someone reading this conversation, would laugh and call ALL of us cavemen.

          • gbjames
            Posted January 10, 2013 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

            Ah, Mark… How do you know that?

            • Mark Joseph
              Posted January 10, 2013 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

              Beat me to it.

          • Sastra
            Posted January 10, 2013 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

            But if God “dumbed it down” then He did a horrible job of it — because the analogy doesn’t fit.

            Anyone could come up with a simple, metaphorical description of modern cosmology, the formation of the earth, and evolution which is better than what’s in the Bible, closer to what actually happened than the story set out in Genesis. You can simplify something without getting huge, major facts completely wrong and mixed up.

            You’re groping desperately here.

          • Kotvin
            Posted January 10, 2013 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

            As I recall, from Theology 101, the Genesis story was created after the Babylonian conquest around 550 BCE. Which makes it much closer to 2500 years old and explains the similarities to Babylonian creation stories. It’s just a story borrowed from another story.

            • Mike Lee
              Posted January 11, 2013 at 12:25 am | Permalink

              Like the virgin birth, death and resurrection three days later etc…..

    • eric
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      For example… the Creation story in Genesis… God was communicating that in a way to be understood when it was written 3500 years ago. These people didn’t know what we do now.

      One could call that lying. Or truncating. Or leaving out important details (sin of omission). Or, you can try and find some nicer way of describing that same phenomena of not-imparting information to early humans that present humans know.

      But by whatever term you want to call that action, if He did it to them, how do you know He isn’t doing it to you?

      Given your own admission, you can’t rationally have any confidence at all in your current historical understanding of scripture. Because tomorrow, God might communicated a different understanding to someone more sophisticated than us.

  22. Sastra
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Robert Ingersoll was a big influence on Mark Twain. Both of them were popular on the speaker circuit. Ingersoll, however, was said to be the greatest of all the orators.

    I once read a description of Ingersoll’s style (by Twain? not sure.) People who had heard that Ingersoll was considered the greatest of all speakers often expected to hear loud bombast and verbal flourishes, affectations in tone and technique which public speakers of the time often assumed. Elocution was popular. Many orators bellowed forth like they were addressing the troops.

    Ingersoll’s approach was different. He spoke very gently and simply, and so softly people had to strain to hear him. Although the crowds were enormous, Ingersoll’s manner was intimate. It was like he was talking extemporaneously, to friends, but feeling very deeply and strongly about what he had to say. Each person in the audience felt as if they had been invited into a private conversation.

    Might have been Twain who wrote that, or maybe Elbert Hubbard. But the description stuck with me.

    • thh1859
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      I’ve read the actual passage. It’s in the recently-published collected writings of Mark Twain (don’t ask me where). In one sense he and Ingersoll were the most prominent rivals on the speaker circuit; which makes Twain’s tribute unstintingly generous.

    • Diane G.
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

      Very interesting; thanks to both of you.

    • steve oberski
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

      He was to respond to the toast of “The Volunteers” and his first sentence or two showed his quality. As his third sentence fell from his lips the house let go with a crash, and my private looked pleased and for the first time hopeful but he had been too much frightened to join in the applause. Presently, when Ingersoll came to the passage in which he said that these volunteers had shed their blood and perilled their lives in order that a mother might own her own child, the language was so fine, whatever it was, for I have forgotten, and the delivery was so superb that the vast multitude rose as one man and stood on their feet, shouting, stamping, and filling the place with such a waving of napkins that it was like a snow storm. page 69 of Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1.

      I heard four speeches which I can never forget. One by Emory Storrs, one by Gen. Vilas (O, wasn’t it wonderful!) one by Gen. Logan (mighty stirring), one by someone whose name escapes me, & one by that splendid old soul, Col. Bob Ingersoll, – oh, it was just the supremest combination of English words that was ever put together since the world began. My soul, how handsome he looked, as he stood on that table, in the midst of those 500 shouting men, & poured the molten silver from his lips! Lord, what an organ is human speech when it is played by a master! All these speeches may look dull in print, but how the lightenings glared around them they were uttered, & how the crowd roared in response! (14 Nov 1879 to OLC, Letters 1876 – 1880) page 474 of Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1.

      Bob Ingersoll’s speech was sadly crippled by the proof-readers, but it’s music will sing through my memory always as the divinest that ever enchanted my ears. And I shall always see him as he stood that night on the dinner table, under the flash of lights & banners, in the midst of seven hundred frantic shouters, the most beautiful human creature that ever lived. “They fought that a mother might own her own child” – the words look like any other (in) print, but Lord bless me, he borrowed the very accent of the angel of Mercy to say them in, & you should have seen that vast house rise to its feet. (17 Nov 1879 to Howells, Letters 1876 – 1880) page 474 of Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1.

      • Diane G.
        Posted January 10, 2013 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

        Thank you!

      • gbjames
        Posted January 10, 2013 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

        To have a tribute like that from a master like Sam Clemmens! Awesome.

      • Sastra
        Posted January 10, 2013 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

        A wonderful passage and fine encomium. Thank you indeed.

        But this is not the description of Ingersoll I had in mind. That one followed my own more closely, in that it contrasted speakers who strutted and gestured with the conversational calm of Ingersoll. He hardly ever raised his voice: he didn’t have to.

        Could have been from Hubbard, who did lots of little biographies. It was someone who had heard him speak, I remember.

        Bet Jacoby would know… ;)

        • steve oberski
          Posted January 10, 2013 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

          That was everything Mark Twain had to say about Robert Ingersoll, at least according to the index.

  23. Melissa Johnson
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Great stuff. When I was reading your post Jerry–where you mention St Paul + that he was reflecting the sexim of his times it sparked in me a memory–one long gone that just returned:

    I remember one night when I was 7 or so my dad was tucking me into bed and he noticed that I had put out some blank paper and a pencil on my desk..Dad asked me what it is for–I said that way god could just write the bible himself without having to tell it to other people (who screwed it up). I think this interchange with Dad followed my questions about who wrote the bible–he told me that god talked to smart people who wrote it down. But some of them screwed it up (I think I was asking about unbaptized babies going to hell). Why not just write it yourself god and avoid these errors? I must have thought………..kids can be smart.

    • gbjames
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      You should publish what he wrote on that paper. A whole new religion!

      • Melissa Johnson
        Posted January 10, 2013 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

        Absolutely–and to my young dismay god did not take advantage of the free paper + pencil. But maybe he left it blank on purpose!!
        …the religion of the blank pages! (to be filled in with one’s own prejudices and viewpoints, of course)

        • gbjames
          Posted January 10, 2013 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

          The God of the Blanks. I can see the churches in my mind… large white sheets at the alter. Blank sheet hymnals. Maybe John Cage’s 4′33″ would be the sacred music.

          • Melissa Johnson
            Posted January 10, 2013 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

            brilliant!! Love the sacred music. I think god wants me to have a glass of wine

            • Melissa Johnson
              Posted January 10, 2013 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

              i hear a message in the coughs and sneezes

          • Greg Peterson
            Posted January 10, 2013 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

            Perhaps we could help God out by creating a theological Mad Libs for him?

            “In the beginning [NOUN] [VERB] the heavens and [LOCATION].”

            • Melissa Johnson
              Posted January 10, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

              Now we are talking! And most likely far more readable and engaging than the bible?!

              • Melissa Johnson
                Posted January 10, 2013 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

                god mad libs would make a fine parlor game. or drinking game.

          • Mark
            Posted January 10, 2013 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

            But don’t these statements imply that God is obligated to explain anything to anyone?

            In the vastness of space with the countless galaxies, each containing billions of stars, billions of planets and how much life that may exist in multiple dimensions, are we arrogant to think that God is obligated to answer ALL (or ANY) of our questions as humans on this one planet? or perhaps might He unfold certain aspects of reality as we (individually and humankind as a whole) mature and “evolve” over time?

            If evolution is correct then one would have to believe that we are more today than we were at the beginning (apes, fish, goo, whatever you think we started out as). In that state could we comprehend what we can today? Then it would stand to reason that we will be more 1000s of years from now than we are today and can handle more knowledge (intellectually and spiritually) than we can in this state. Considering knowledge is infinite, and we are finite, there’s always room for expansion in every way.

            So perhaps God explained things (like creation) to those people 3500 years ago in that was because it was sufficient, and because they didn’t care as much about HOW He did it (scientifically speaking) as we do, as post renaissance western thinkers?

            To me none of this negates the existence of God, but rather some people’s concept of Him.

            Forgive me for posting again, and thanks for letting me chime in today. I realize that I’m commenting in a venue that my views are probably not generally acceptable, and I don’t want to seem like a “fundamentalist” (which I’m not) that is coming to “defend fundamentalist views”, etc.

            Thanks again all.

            • Melissa Johnson
              Posted January 10, 2013 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

              I hear you. Maybe god should do a new release on the bible every 100 years or so to clear it up? Aw, just kidding.

            • gbjames
              Posted January 10, 2013 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

              We are still waiting for you to explain why you think you even have the right god at all.

            • Sastra
              Posted January 10, 2013 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

              Mark wrote:

              To me none of this negates the existence of God, but rather some people’s concept of Him.

              One of the problems of invoking the “who are we to expect God to make sense?” defense is that doing so means that literally NOTHING can or could or will or would negate the existence of God, and thus “our concept” of God becomes fine tuned again and again.

              The fact remains that a Sacred and Perfect Word of God which gets all the details of how the earth and life came to be wrong is not an example of a metaphor, or of a truth given to simple folk in simple form. Ancient people were not stupid: they could understand the basic concepts behind species evolving as the environment changes. There are books on evolution written for small children.

              There is nothing in the Bible which could not have been written by people of the time. There is no need to invoke divine inspiration to explain anything. Divine inspiration can only be read INTO the text, after it is assumed.

              As for worrying about us thinking you are a fundamentalist because you want to defend your views, don’t worry. Why would a science website get upset over someone defending their views? They ought to.

              Don’t preach. That’s different.

            • Darth Dog
              Posted January 10, 2013 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

              “But don’t these statements imply that God is obligated to explain anything to anyone?”

              I couldn’t agree more. But I would like to point out that you are the only one on this whole comment thread who is claiming that God explained anything to anyone. So where do you get the privileged information? How do you know that “God has explained this” but “God doesn’t have to explain that”.

              • Greg Peterson
                Posted January 11, 2013 at 10:43 am | Permalink

                And frankly, since your god seems to want to make what amounts to a moral issue out of what one believes about reality, and hold people accountable for those beliefs, then yes, he absolutely would have an obligation to provide accurate and understandable information. In what possible situation would it be just blame someone for not believing something for which they had inadequate information vis-a-vis belief formation?

  24. Stephen Barnard
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    This guy, Ingersoll, is really strident! It’s breathtaking. I think he sets a new standard. He out-stidents Hitchens in print IMO, but H. was unmatched in debate. I love it.

    • gbjames
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

      How’s this for a fantasy… Ingersoll and Hitchens in conversation on a stage.

      • Stephen Barnard
        Posted January 10, 2013 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

        That’s a dream team, but they’d need a foil. I propose Dawkins taking the side of religion. He knows all the arguments.

        • gbjames
          Posted January 10, 2013 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

          That’s good but I was hoping for H. L. Menckin or maybe Sam Clemmins.

          • Stephen Barnard
            Posted January 10, 2013 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

            Good point. The debate should unfold in a strident Elysian dreamscape.

      • SinSeeker
        Posted January 12, 2013 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

        When I get down to hell, I’ll organise it. All invited!

  25. Posted January 10, 2013 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    Thanks very much for posting this!

  26. jiten
    Posted January 11, 2013 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    “If we have the right to use our reason, we certainly have the right to act in accordance with it”

    This is just great. I’ll certainly read the whole essay. I have it on my “read later”.

  27. raven
    Posted January 11, 2013 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    I’d like to hear how some more conservative churches that allow women to preach deal with this passage. I’m sure they just ignore it, but they can’t write it off as a metaphor.

    Oh gee that is so simple.

    1. All xians are cafeteria xians!!! Without exception. The NT contradicts itself over and over, because it is a multi-author anthology. There are other pro-women passages.

    Xians just pick and choose from the choices.

    2. More rational xians don’t take a lot of Paul too seriously. Around half the books ascribed to him are known forgeries.

    3. Speaking of forgeries, I found it hard to take a magic holy book seriously when it was obviously mostly a work of fiction. Reading the bible is a good route out of xianity.

  28. SinSeeker
    Posted January 12, 2013 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    A bit off this topic (but not for the website), but this is one of my favourite Ingersoll quotes:

    “Only a few years ago there was no person too ignorant to successfully answer Charles Darwin; and the more ignorant he was the more cheerfully he undertook the task” (Ingersoll, Orthodoxy, 1884).


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