A man ahead of his time. In the mid to late 1800’s a man named Robert Ingersoll was writing essays against religion, the Bible, slavery and any number of other things that struck him as intellectually or morally wrong. His wit and intelligence made him popular, but he was reviled by many a pastor, priest, or minister for exposing the many, many wrongs and downright evil things that are promoted in the Bible.
Below are a few short excerpts from his writings “About the Holy Bible.”
“This book is the enemy of freedom, the support of slavery. This book sowed the seeds of hatred in families and nations, fed the flames of war, and impoverished the world. This book is the breastwork of kings and tyrants — the enslaver of women and children. This book has corrupted parliaments and courts. This book has made colleges and universities the teachers of error and the haters of science. This book has filled Christendom with hateful, cruel, ignorant and warring sects. This book taught men to kill their fellows for religion’s sake. This book funded the Inquisition, invented the instruments of torture, built the dungeons in which the good and loving languished, forged the chains that rusted in their flesh, erected the scaffolds whereon they died. This book piled fagots about the feet of the just. This book drove reason from the minds of millions and filled the asylums with the insane.
This book has caused fathers and mothers to shed the blood of their babes. This book was the auction block on which the slave- mother stood when she was sold from her child. This book filled the sails of the slave-trader and made merchandise of human flesh. This book lighted the fires that burned “witches” and “wizards.” This book filled the darkness with ghouls and ghosts, and the bodies of men and women with devils. This book polluted the souls of men with the infamous dogma of eternal pain. This book made credulity the greatest of virtues, and investigation the greatest of crimes. This book filled nations with hermits, monks and nuns — with the pious and the useless. This book placed the ignorant and unclean saint above the philosopher and philanthropist. This book taught man to despise the joys of this life, that he might be happy in another — to waste this world for the sake of the next.
I attack this book because it is the enemy of human liberty — the greatest obstruction across the highway of human progress.” Robert Ingersoll
IS THE OLD TESTAMENT INSPIRED?
If it is, it should be a book that no man — no number of men — could produce.
It should contain the perfection of philosophy.
It should perfectly accord with every fact in nature.
There should be no mistakes in astronomy, geology, or as to any subject or science.
Its morality should be the highest, the purest.
Its laws and regulations for the control of conduct should be just, wise, perfect, and perfectly adapted to the accomplishment of the ends desired.
It should contain nothing calculated to make man cruel, revengeful, vindictive or infamous.
It should be filled with intelligence, justice, purity, honesty, mercy and the spirit of liberty.
It should be opposed to strife and war, to slavery and lust, to ignorance, credulity and superstition.
It should develop the brain and civilize the heart.
It should satisfy the heart and brain of the best and wisest.
It should be true.
Does the Old Testament satisfy this standard?
Is there anything in the Old Testament — in history, in theory, in law, in government, in morality, in science — above and beyond the ideas, the beliefs, the customs and prejudices of its authors and the people among whom they lived?
Is there one ray of light from any supernatural source?
The ancient Hebrews believed that this earth was the center of the universe, and that the sun, moon and stars were specks in the sky.
With this the Bible agrees.
They thought the earth was flat, with four corners; that the sky, the firmament, was solid — the floor of Jehovah’s house.
The Bible teaches the same.
They imagined that the sun journeyed about the earth, and that by stopping the sun the day could be lengthened.
The Bible agrees with this.
They believed that Adam and Eve were the first man and woman; that they had been created but a few years before, and that they, the Hebrews, were their direct descendants.
This the Bible teaches.
If anything is, or can be, certain, the writers of the Bible were mistaken about creation, astronomy, geology; about the causes of phenomena, the origin of evil and the cause of death.
Now, it must be admitted that if an infinite Being is the author of the Bible, he knew all sciences, all facts, and could not have made a mistake.
If, then, there are mistakes, misconceptions, false theories, ignorant myths and blunders in the Bible, it must have been written by finite beings; that is to say, by ignorant and mistaken men.
Nothing can be clearer than this.
For centuries the church insisted that the Bible was absolutely true; that it contained no mistakes; that the story of creation was true; that its astronomy and geology were in accord with the facts; that the scientists who differed with the Old Testament were infidels and atheists.
Now this has changed. The educated Christians admit that the writers of the Bible were not inspired as to any science. They now say that God, or Jehovah, did not inspire the writers of his book for the purpose of instructing the world about astronomy, geology, or any science. They now admit that the inspired men who wrote the Old Testament knew nothing about any science, and that they wrote about the earth and stars, the sun and moon, in accordance with the general ignorance of the time.
It required many centuries to force the theologians to this admission. Reluctantly, full of malice and hatred, the priests retired from the field, leaving the victory with science.
They took another position;
They declared that the authors, or rather the writers, of the Bible were inspired in spiritual and moral things; that Jehovah wanted to make known to his children his will and his infinite love for his children; that Jehovah, seeing his people wicked, ignorant and depraved, wished to make them merciful and just, wise and spiritual, and that the Bible is inspired in its laws, in the religion it teaches and in its ideas of government.
This is the issue now. Is the Bible any nearer right in its ideas of justice, of mercy, of morality or of religion than in its conception of the sciences? Is it moral?
It upholds slavery — it sanctions polygamy.
Could a devil have done worse?
Is it merciful?
In war it raised the black flag; it commanded the destruction, the massacre, of all — of the old, infirm. and helpless — of wives and babes.
Were its laws inspired?
Hundreds of offenses were punished with death. To pick up sticks on Sunday, to murder your father on Monday, were equal crimes. There is in the literature of the world no bloodier code. The law of revenge — of retaliation — was the law of Jehovah. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a limb for a limb.
This is savagery — not philosophy.
Is it just and reasonable?
The Bible is opposed to religious toleration — to religious liberty. Whoever differed with the majority was stoned to death. Investigation was a crime. Husbands were ordered to denounce and to assist in killing their unbelieving wives.
It is the enemy of Art. “Thou shalt make no graven image.” This was the death of Art.
Palestine never produced a painter or a sculptor.
Is the Bible civilized?
It upholds lying, larceny, robbery, murder, the selling of diseased meat to strangers, and even the sacrifice of human beings to Jehovah.
Is it philosophical?
It teaches that the sins of a people can be transferred to an animal — to a goat. It makes maternity an offence for which a sin offering had to be made.
It was wicked to give birth to a boy, and twice as wicked to give birth to a girl.
To make hair-oil like that used by the priests was an offence punishable with death.
The blood of a bird killed over running water was regarded as medicine.
Would a civilized God daub his altars with the blood of oxen, lambs and doves? Would he make all his priests butchers?
Would he delight in the smell of burning flesh? Robert Ingersoll Reformatted somewhat…no words changed, altered, or deleted
Many of Robert Ingersoll’s works can be found at the link below
More details of Robert Ingersoll’s life and more links to his works can be found on Wikipedia at:
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