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28 page printout Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship. Contents of this file page A REPLY TO REV'D DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER. 1882 1 A REPLY TO REV. JOHN HALL AND WARNER VAN NORDEN. 1892 11 A REPLY TO THE REV. DR. PLUMB. 1898 15 A REPLY TO THE NEW YORK CLERGY ON SUPERSTITION. 1898 19 **** **** This file, its printout, or copies of either are to be copied and given away, but NOT sold. Bank of Wisdom, Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 The Works of ROBERT G. INGERSOLL **** **** A REPLY TO REV'D DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER. Whenever I lecture, as a rule, some ministers think it their duty to reply for the purpose of showing either that I am unfair, or that I am blasphemous, or that I laugh. And laughing has always been considered by theologians as a crime. Ministers have always said you will have no respect for our ideas unless you are solemn. Solemnity is a condition precedent to believing anything without evidence. And if you can only get a man solemn enough, awed enough, he will believe anything. In this city the Rev. Dr. Thomas has made a few remarks, and I may say by way of preface that I have always held him in the highest esteem. He struggles, according to his statement, with the problem of my sincerity, and he about half concludes that I am not sincere. There is a little of the minister left in Dr. Thomas. Ministers always account for a difference of opinion by attacking the motive. Now, to him, it makes no difference whether I am sincere or insincere; the question is, Can my argument be answered? Suppose you could prove that the maker of the multiplication table held mathematics in contempt; what of it? Ten times ten would be a hundred still. My sincerity has nothing to do with the force of the argument -- not the slightest. But this gentleman begins to suspect that I am doing what I do for the sake of applause. What a commentary on the Christian religion, that, after they have been preaching it for sixteen or eighteen hundred years, a man attacks it for the sake of popularity -- a man attacks it for the purpose of winning applause! When I commenced to speak upon this subject there was no appreciable applause; most of my fellow-citizens differed with me; and I was denounced as though I had been a wild beast. But I have lived to see the majority of the men and women of intellect in the United States on my side; I have lived to see the church deny her creed; I have lived to see ministers apologize in public for what they preached; and a great and glorious work is going on until, in a little while, you will not find one of them, unless it is some old petrifaction of the red-stone period, who will admit that he ever believed in the Trinity, in the Atonement, or in the doctrine of Eternal Agony. The religion preached in the pulpits does not Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 1 A REPLY TO REV'D DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER. satisfy the intellect of America, and if Dr. Thomas wishes to know why people go to hear infidelity it is this: Because they are not satisfied with the orthodox Christianity of the day. That is the reason. They are beginning to hold it in contempt. But this gentleman imagines that I am insincere because I attacked certain doctrines of the Bible. I attacked the doctrine of eternal pain. I hold it in infinite and utter abhorrence. And if there be a God in this universe who made a hell; if there be a God in this universe who denies to any human being the right of reformation, then that God is not good, that God is not just, and the future of man is infinitely dark. I despise that doctrine, and I have done what little I could to get that horror from the cradle, that horror from the hearts of mothers, that horror from the hearts of husbands and fathers, and sons, and brothers, and sisters. It is a doctrine that turns to ashes all the humanities of life and all the hopes of mankind. I despise it. And the gentleman also charges that I am wanting in reverence. I admit here to-day that I have no reverence for a falsehood. I do not care how old it is, and I do not care who told it, whether the men were inspired or not. I have no reverence for what I believe to be false, and in determining what is false I go by my reason. And whenever another man gives me an argument I examine it. If it is good I follow it. If it is bad I throw it away. I have no reverence for any book that upholds human slavery. I despise such a book. I have no reverence for any book that upholds or palliates the infamous institution of polygamy. I have no reverence for any book that tells a husband to kill his wife if she differs with him upon the subject of religion. I have no reverence for any book that defends wars of conquest and extermination. I have no reverence for a God that orders his legions to slay the old and helpless, and to whet the edge of the sword with the blood of mothers and babes. I have no reverence for such a book; neither have I any reverence for the author of that book. No matter whether he be God or man, I have no reverence. I have no reverence for the miracles of the Bible. I have no reverence for the story that God allowed bears to tear children in pieces. I have no reverence for the miraculous, but I have reverence for the truth, for justice, for charity, for humanity, for intellectual liberty, and for human progress. I have the right to do my own thinking. I am going to do it. I have never met any minister that I thought had brain enough to think for himself and for me too. I do my own. I have no reverence for barbarism, no matter how ancient it may be, and no reverence for the savagery of the Old Testament; no reverence for the malice of the New. And let me tell you here to-night that the Old Testament is a thousand times better than the New. The Old Testament threatened no vengeance beyond the grave. God was satisfied when his enemy was dead. It was reserved for the New Testament -- it was reserved for universal benevolence -- to rend the veil between time and eternity and fix the horrified gaze of man upon the abyss of hell. The New Testament is just as much worse than the Old, as hell is worse than sleep. And yet it is the fashion to say that the Old Testament is bad and that the New Testament is good. I have no reverence for any book that teaches a doctrine contrary to my reason; no reverence for any book that Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 2 A REPLY TO REV'D DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER. teaches a doctrine contrary to my heart; and, no matter how old it is, no matter how many have believed it, no matter how many have died on account of it, no matter how many live for it, I have no reverence for that book, and I am glad of it. Dr. Thomas seems to think that I should approach these things with infinite care, that I should not attack slavery, or polygamy, or religious persecution, but that I should "mildly suggest" -- mildly, -- should not hurt anybody's feelings. When I go to church the ministers tell me I am going to hell. When I meet one I tell him, "There is no hell," and he says: "What do you want to hurt our feelings for? "He wishes me mildly to suggest that the sun and moon did not stop, that may be the bears only frightened the children, and that, after all. Lot's wife was only scared. Why, there was a minister in this city of Chicago who imagined that his congregation were progressive, and, in his pulpit, he said that he did not believe the story of Lot's wife -- said that he did not think that any sensible man would believe that a woman was changed into salt; and they tried him, and the congregation thought he was entirely too fresh. And finally he went before that church and admitted that he was mistaken, and owned up to the chloride of sodium. and said: "I not only take the Bible cum grano salis, but with a whole barrel-full." My doctrine is, if you do not believe a thing, say so; no need of going away around the bush and suggesting may be, perhaps, possibly, peradventure. That is the ministerial way, but I do not like it. I am also charged with making an onslaught upon the good as well as the bad. I say here today that never in my life have I said one word against honesty, one word against liberty, one word against charity, one word against any institution that is good. I attack the bad, not the good, and I would like to have some minister point out in some lecture or speech that I have delivered, one word against the good, against the highest happiness of the human race. I have said all I was able to say in favor of Justice, in favor of liberty, in favor of home, in favor of wife and children, in favor of progress, and in favor of universal kindness; but not one word in favor of the bad, and I never expect to. Dr. Thomas also attacks my statement that the brain thinks in spite of us. Doesn't it? Can any man tell what he is going to think to-morrow? You see, you hear, you taste, you feel, you smell -- these are the avenues by which Nature approaches the brain, the consequence of this is thought, and you cannot by any possibility help thinking. Neither can you determine what you will think. These impressions are made independently of your will. "But," says this reverend doctor, "Whence comes this conception of space?" I can tell him. There is such a thing as matter. We conceive that matter occupies room -- space -- and, in our minds, space is simply the opposite of matter. And it comes naturally -- not supernaturally. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 3 A REPLY TO REV'D DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER. Does the gentleman contend there had to be a revelation of God for us to conceive of a place where there is nothing? We know there is something. We can think of the opposite of something, and therefore we say space. "But," says this gentleman, "Where do we get the idea of good and bad?" I can tell him; no trouble about that. Every man has the capacity to enjoy and the capacity to suffer -- every man. Whenever a man enjoys himself he calls that good; whenever he suffers he calls that bad. The animals that are useful to him he calls good; the poisonous, the hurtful, he calls bad. The vegetables that he can eat and use he calls good; those that are of no use except to choke the growth of the good ones, he calls bad. When the sun shines, when everything in nature is out that ministers to him, he says "this is good;" when the storm comes and blows down his hut, when the frost comes and lays down his crop, he says "this is bad." And all phenomena that affect men well he calls good; all that affect him ill he calls bad. Now, then, the foundation of the idea of right and wrong is the effect in nature that we are capable of enjoying or capable of suffering. That is the foundation of conscience; and if man could not suffer, if man could not enjoy, we never would have dreamed of the word conscience; and the words right and wrong never could have passed human lips. There are no supernatural fields. We get our ideas from experience -- some of them from our forefathers, many from experience. A man works -- food does not come of itself. A man works to raise it, and, after he has worked in the sun and heat, do you think it is necessary that he should have a revelation from heaven before he thinks that he has a better right to it than the man who did not work? And yet, according to these gentlemen, we never would have known it was wrong to steal had not the Ten Commandments been given from Mount Sinai. You go into a savage country where they never heard of the Bible, and let a man hunt all day for game, and finally get one little bird, and the hungry man that staid at home endeavor to take it from him, and you would see whether he would need a direct revelation from God in order to make up his mind who had the better right to that bird. Our ideas of right and wrong are born of our surroundings, and if a man will think for a moment he will see it. But they deny that the mind thinks in spite of us. I heard a story of a man who said, "No man can think of one thing a minute, he will think of something else." Well, there was a little Methodist preacher. He said he could think of a thing a minute -- that he could say the Lord's Prayer and never think of another thing. "Well," said the man, "I'll tell you what I will do. There is the best road-horse in the country. I will give you that horse if you will just say the Lord's Prayer, and not think of another thing." And the little fellow shut up his eyes: "Our Father which art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done -- I suppose you will throw in the saddle and bridle?" I have always insisted, and I shall always insist, until I find some fact in Nature correcting the statement, that Nature sows the seeds of thought -- that every brain is a kind of field where the seeds are sown, and that some are very poor. and some are very barren, and some are very rich. That is my opinion. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 4 A REPLY TO REV'D DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER. Again he asks; If one is not responsible for his thought, why is any one blamed for thinking as he does? "It is not a question of blame, it is a question of who is right -- a question of who is wrong. Admit that every one thinks exactly as he must, that does not show that his thought is right; that does not show that his thought is the highest thought. Admit that every piece of land in the world produces what it must; that does not prove that the land covered with barren rocks and a little moss is just as good as the land covered with wheat or corn; neither does it prove that the mind has to act as the wheat or the corn; neither does it prove that the land had any choice as to what it would produce. I hold men responsible not for their thoughts; I hold men responsible for their actions. And I have said a thousand times: Physical liberty is this -- the right to do anything that does not interfere with another -- in other words, to act right; and intellectual liberty is this -- the right to think right, and the right to think wrong, provided you do your best to think right. I have always said it, and I expect to say it always. The reverend gentleman is also afflicted with the gradual theory. I believe in that theory. If you will leave out inspiration, if you will leave out the direct interference of an infinite God, the gradual theory is right. It is a theory of evolution. I admit that astronomy has been born of astrology, that chemistry came from the black art; and I also contend that religion will be lost in science. I believe in evolution. I believe in the budding of the seed, the shining of the sun, the dropping of the rain; I believe in the spreading and the growing; and that is as true in every other department of the world as it is in vegetation. I believe it; but that does not account for the Bible doctrine. We are told we have a book absolutely inspired, and it will not do to say God gradually grows. If he is infinite now, he knows as much as he ever will. If he has been always infinite, he knew as much at the time he wrote the Bible as he knows to-day; and, consequently, whatever he said then must be as true now as it was then. You see they mix up now a little bit of philosophy with religion -- a little bit of science with the shreds and patches of the supernatural. Hear this: I said in my lecture the other day that all the clergymen in the world could not get one drop of rain out of the sky. I insist on it. All the prayers on earth cannot produce one drop of rain. I also said all the clergymen of the world could not save one human life. They tried it last year. They tried it in the United States. The Christian world upon its knees implored God to save one life, and the man died. The man died! Had the man recovered the whole church would have claimed that it was in answer to prayer. The man having died, what does the church say now? What is the answer to this? The Rev. Dr. Thomas says: "There is prayer and there is rain." Good. "Can he that is himself or any one else say there is no possible relation between one and the other?" I do. Let us put it another way. There is rain and there is infidelity; can any one say there is no possible relation between the two? How does Dr. Thomas know that he is not indebted to me for this year's Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 5 A REPLY TO REV'D DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER. crops? And yet this gentleman really throws out the idea that there is some possible relation between prayer and rain, between rain and health; and he tells us that he would have died twenty-five years ago had it not been for prayer. I doubt it. prayer is not a medicine. Life depends upon certain facts -- not upon prayer. All the prayer in the world cannot take the place of the circulation of the blood. All the prayer in the world is no substitute for digestion. All the prayer in the world cannot take the place of food; and whenever a man lives by prayer you will find that he eats considerable besides. It will not do. Again: This reverend Doctor says: "Shall we say that all the love of the unseen world" -- how does he know there is any love in the unseen world? "and the love of God" -- how does he know there is any love in God? "heed not the cries and tears of earth?" I do not know; but let the gentleman read the history of religious persecution. Let him read the history of those who were put in dungeons. of those who lifted their chained hands to God and mingled prayer with the clank of fetters; men that were in the dungeons simply for loving this God, simply for worshiping this God. And what did God do? Nothing. The chains remained upon the limbs of his worshipers. They remained in the dungeons built by theology, by malice, and hatred; and what did God do? Nothing. Thousands of men were taken from their homes, fagots were piled around their bodies; they were consumed to ashes, and what did God do? Nothing. The sword of extermination was unsheathed, hundreds and thousands of men, women and children perished. Women lifted their hands to God and implored him to protect their children, their daughters; and what did God do? Nothing. Whole races were enslaved, and the cruel lash was put upon the naked back of toil. What did God do? Nothing. Children were sold from the arms of mothers. All the sweet humanities of life were trodden beneath the brutal foot of creed; and what did God do? Nothing. Human beings, his children, were tracked through swamps by bloodhounds; and what did God do? Nothing. Wild storms sweep over the earth and the shipwrecked go down in the billows; and what does God do? Nothing. There come plague and pestilence and famine. What does God do? Thousands and thousands perish. Little children die upon the withered breasts of mothers; and what does God do? Nothing. What evidence has Dr. Thomas that the cries and tears of man have ever touched the heart of God? Let us be honest. I appeal to the history of the world; I appeal to the tears, and blood, and agony, and imprisonment, and death of hundreds and millions of the bravest and best. Have they ever touched the heart of the Infinite? Has the hand of help ever been reached from heaven? I do not know; but I do not believe it. Dr. Thomas tells me that is orthodox Christianity. What right has he to tell what is orthodox Christianity? He is a heretic. He had too much brain to remain in the Methodist pulpit. He had a doubt -- and a doubt is born of an idea. And his doctrine has been declared by his own church to be unorthodox. They have passed on his case and they have found him unconstitutional. What right has he to state what is orthodox? And here is what he says: Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 6 A REPLY TO REV'D DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER. "Christianity" -- orthodox Christianity I suppose he means -- "teaches, concerning the future world, that rewards and punishments are carried over from time to eternity; that the principles of the government of God are the same there as here; that character, and not profession determines destiny; and that Humboldt, and Dickens, and all others who have gone and shall go to that world shall receive their just rewards; that souls will always be in the place in which for the time, be it now or a million years hence, they are fitted. That is what Christianity teaches." If it does, never will I have another word to say against Christianity. It never has taught it. Christianity -- orthodox Christianity -- teaches that when you draw your last breath you have lost the last opportunity for reformation. Christianity teaches that this little world is the eternal line between time and eternity, and if you do not get religion in this life, you will be eternally damned in the next. That is Christianity. They say: "Now is the accepted time." If you put it off until you die, that is too late; and the doctrine of the Christian world is that there is no opportunity for reformation in another world. The doctrine of orthodox Christianity is that you must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ here in this life, and it will not do to believe on him in the next world. You must believe on him here and that if you fail here, God in his infinite wisdom will never give you another chance. That is orthodox Christianity; and according to orthodox Christianity, the greatest, the best and the sublimest of the world are now in hell. And why is it that they say it is not orthodox Christianity? I have made them ashamed of their doctrine. When I called to their attention the fact that such men as Darwin, such men as Emerson, Dickens, Longfellow, Laplace, Shakespeare, and Humboldt, were in hell, it struck them all at once that the company in heaven would not be very interesting with such men left out. And now they begin to say: "We think the Lord will give those men another chance." I have succeeded in my mission beyond my most sanguine expectations. I have made orthodox ministers deny their creeds; I have made them ashamed of their doctrine -- and that is glory enough. They will let me in, a few years after I am dead. I admit that the doctrine that God will treat us as we treat others -- I admit that is taught by Matthew, Mark, and Luke; but it is not taught by the Orthodox church. I want that understood. I admit also that Dr. Thomas is not orthodox, and that he was driven out of the church because he thought God too good to damn men forever without giving them the slightest chance. Why, the Catholic Church is a thousand times better than your Protestant Church upon that question. The Catholic Church believes in purgatory -- that is, a place where a fellow can get a chance to make a motion for a new trial. Dr. Thomas, all I ask of you is to tell all that you think. Tell your congregation whether you believe the Bible was written by divine inspiration. Have the courage and the grandeur to tell your people whether, in your judgment, God ever upheld slavery. Do not shrink. Do not shirk. Tell your people whether God ever upheld polygamy. Do not shrink. Tell them whether God was ever in favor of religious persecution. Stand right to it. Then tell your people whether you honestly believe that a good man can suffer for a bad Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 7 A REPLY TO REV'D DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER. one and the bad one get the credit. Be honor bright. Tell what you really think and there will not be as much difference between you and myself as you imagine. The next gentleman, I believe, is the Rev. Dr. Lorimer. He comes to the rescue, and I have an idea of his mental capacity from the fact that he is a Baptist. He believes that the infinite God has a choice as to the manner in which a man or babe shall be dampened. This gentleman regards modern infidelity as "pitifully shallow" as to its intellectual conceptions and as to its philosophical views of the universe and of the problems regarding man's place in it and of his destiny. "Pitifully shallow!" What is the modern conception of the universe? The modern conception is that the universe always has been and forever will be. The modern conception of the universe is that it embraces within its infinite arms all matter, all spirit, all forms of force, all that is, all that has been, all that can be. That is the modern conception of this universe. And this is called "pitiful." What is the Christian conception? It is that all the matter in the universe is dead, inert, and that back of it is a Jewish Jehovah who made it, and who is now engaged in managing the affairs of this world. And they even go so far as to say that that Being made experiments in which he signally failed. That Being made man and woman and put them in a garden and allowed them to become totally depraved. That Being of infinite wisdom made hundreds and millions of people when he knew he would have to drown them. That Being peopled a planet like this with men, women and children, knowing that he would have to consign most of them to eternal fire. That is a pitiful conception of the universe. That is an infamous conception of the universe. Give me rather the conception of Spinoza, the conception of Humboldt, of Darwin, of Huxley, of Tyndall and of every other man who has thought. I love to think of the whole universe together as one eternal fact. I love to think that everything is alive; that crystallization is itself a step toward joy. I love to think that when a bud bursts into blossom: it feels a thrill. I love to have the universe full of feeling and full of joy, and not full of simple dead, inert matter, managed by an old bachelor for all eternity. Another thing to which this gentleman objects is that I propose to banish such awful thoughts as the mystery of our origin and our relations to the present and to the possible future from human thought. I have never said so. Never. I have said, One world at a time. Why? Do not make yourself miserable about another. Why? Because I do not know anything about it, and it may be good. So do not worry. That is all. You do not know where you are going to land. It may be the happy port of heaven. Wait until you get there. It will be time enough to make trouble then. This is what I have said. I have said that the golden bridge of life from gloom emerges, and on shadow rests. I do not know. I admit it. Life is a shadowy strange and winding road on which we travel for a few short steps, just a little way from the cradle with its lullaby of love, to the low and quiet wayside inn where all at last must sleep, and where the only salutation is "Good-Night!" Whether there is a good morning I do not know, but I am willing to wait. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 8 A REPLY TO REV'D DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER. Let us think these high and splendid thoughts. Let us build palaces for the future, but do not let us spend time making dungeons for men who happen to differ from us. I am willing to take the conceptions of Humboldt and Darwin, of Haeckel and Spinoza, and I am willing to compare their splendid conceptions with the doctrine embraced in the Baptist creed. This gentleman has his ideas upon a variety of questions, and he tells me that, "No one has a right to say that Dickens, Longfellow, and Darwin are castaways." Why not? They were not Christians. They did not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. They did not believe in the inspiration of the Scriptures. And, if orthodox religion be true, they are castaways. But he says: "No one has the right to say that orthodoxy condemns to perdition any man who has struggled toward the right, and who has tried to bless the earth he is raised on." That is what I say, but that is not what orthodoxy says. Orthodoxy says that the best man in the world, if he fails to believe in the existence of God. or in the divinity of Christ, will be eternally lost. Does it not say it? Is there an orthodox minister in this town now who will stand up and say that an honest atheist can be saved? He will not. Let any preacher say it, and he will be tried for heresy. I will tell you what orthodoxy is. A man goes to the day of judgment, and they cross-examine him, and they say to him: "Did you believe the Bible?" "No." "Did you belong to the church?" "No." "Did you take care of your wife and children?" "Yes?" "Pay your debts?" "Yes." "Love your country?" "Yes." "Love the whole world?" "Yes." "Never made anybody unhappy?" "Not that I know of. If there is any man or woman that I ever wronged let them stand up and say so. That is the kind of man I am; but," said he, "I did not believe the Bible. I did not believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ, and, to tell you the truth, I did not believe in the existence of God. I now find I was mistaken; but that was my doctrine." Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 9 A REPLY TO REV'D DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER. Now, I want to know what, according to the orthodox church, is done with that man? He is sent to hell. That is their doctrine. Then the next fellow comes. He says: "Where did you come from?" And he looks off kind of stiffly, with his head on one side and he says: "I came from the gallows. I was just hung." "What were you hung for?" " Murdering my wife. She wasn't a Christian either, she got left. The day I was hung I was washed in the blood of the Lamb." That is Christianity. And they say to him: "Come in! Let the band play!" That is orthodox Christianity. Every man that is hanged -- there is a minister there, and the minister tells him he is all right. All he has to do is just to believe on the Lord. Another objection this gentleman has, and that is that I am scurrilous. Scurrilous! And the gentleman, in order to show that he is not scurrilous, calls infidels, "donkeys, serpents, buzzards." That is simply to show that he is not scurrilous. Dr. Lorimer is also of the opinion that the mind thinks independently of the will; and I propose to prove by him that it does. He is the last man in the world to controvert that doctrine -- the last man. In spite of himself his mind absorbed the sermon of another man, and he repeated it as his own. I am satisfied he is an honest man; consequently his mind acted independently of his will, and he furnishes the strongest evidence in favor of my position that it is possible to conceive. I am infinitely obliged to him for the testimony he has unconsciously offered. He also takes the ground that infidelity debases a man and renders him unfit for the discharge of the highest duties pertaining to life, and that we show the greatest shallowness when we endeavor to overthrow Calvinism. What is Calvinism? It is the doctrine that an infinite God made millions of people, knowing that they would be damned. I have answered that a thousand times. I answer it again. No God has a right to make a mistake, and then damn the mistake. No God has a right to make a failure, and a man who is to be eternally damned is not a conspicuous success. No God has a right to make an investment that will not finally pay a dividend. The world is getting better, and the ministers, all your life and all mine, have been crying out from the pulpit that we are all going wrong, that immorality was stalking through the land, that crime was about to engulf the world, and yet, in spite of all their prophecies, the world has steadily grown better, and there is more Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 10 A REPLY TO REV'D DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER. justice, more charity, more kindness, more goodness, and more liberty in the world to-day than ever before. And there is more infidelity in the world to-day than ever before. END **** **** A REPLY TO REV. JOHN HALL AND WARNER VAN NORDEN. Question. Have you read the article in the Morning Advertiser entitled "Workers Starving"? Answer. I have read it, and was greatly surprised at the answers made to the reporter of the Advertiser. Question. What do you think of the remarks of the Rev. John Hall and by Mr. Warner Van Norden, Treasurer of the "Church Extension Committee"? Answer. My opinion is that Dr. Hall must have answered under some irritation, or that the reporter did not happen to take down all he said. It hardly seems probable that Dr. Hall should have said that he had no time to discuss the matter of aiding the needy poor, giving as a reason that there were so many other things that demanded his immediate attention. "The church is always insisting that it is, above all things, a charitable institution; that it collects and distributes many millions every year for the relief of the needy, and it is always quoting: "Sell that thou hast and give to the poor." It is hard to imagine anything of more importance than to relieve the needy, or to succor the oppressed. Of course, I know that the church itself produces nothing, and that it lives on contributions; but its claim is that it receives from those who are able to give, and gives to those who are in urgent need. I have sometimes thought, that the most uncharitable thing in the world is an organized charity. It seems to have the peculiarities of a corporation, and becomes as soulless as its kindred. To use a very old phrase, it generally acts like "a beggar on horseback." Probably Dr. Hall, in fact, does a great deal for the poor, and I imagine that he must have been irritated or annoyed when he made the answer attributed to him in the Advertiser. The good Samaritan may have been in a hurry, but he said nothing about it. The Levites that passed by on the other side seemed to have had other business. Understand me, I am saying nothing against Dr. Hall, but it does seem to me that there are few other matters more important than assisting our needy fellow-men. Question. What do you think of Mr. Warner Van Norden's sentiments as expressed to the reporter? Answer. In the first place, I think he is entirely mistaken. I do not think the Cloak-makers brought their trouble upon themselves. The wages they receive were and are insufficient to Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 11 A REPLY TO REV. JOHN HALL AND WARNER VAN NORDEN. support reasonable human beings. They work for almost nothing, and it is hard for me to understand why they live at all, when life is so expensive and death so cheap. All they can possibly do is to earn enough one day to buy food to enable them to work the next. Life with them is a perpetual struggle. They live on the edge of death. Under their feet they must feel the side of the grave crumbling, and thus they go through, day by day, month by month, year by year. They are, I presume, sustained by a hope that is never realized. Mr. Van Norden says that he is not in favor of helping the poor and needy of the city, save in the way employed by the church, and that the experience of centuries teaches us that the giving of alms to the poor only encourages them in their idleness and their crimes. Is Mr. Van Norden ready to take the ground that when Christ said: "Sell that thou hast and give to the poor," he intended to encourage idleness and crime? Is it possible that when it was said, "It is better to give than to receive," the real meaning was, It is better to encourage idleness and crime than to receive assistance? For instance, a man falls into the water. Why should one standing on the shore attempt to rescue him? Could he not properly say: "If all who fall into the water are rescued, it will only encourage people to fall into the water; it will make sailors careless, and persons who stand on wharves, will care very little whether they fall in or not. Therefore, in order to make people careful who have not fallen into the water, let those in the water drown." In other words, why should anybody be assisted, if assistance encourages carelessness, or idleness, or negligence? According to Mr. Van Norden, charity is out of place in this world, kindness is a mistake, and hospitality springs from a lack of philosophy. In other words, all should take the consequences of their acts, not only, but the consequences of the acts of others. If I knew this doctrine to be true, I should still insist that men should be charitable on their own account. A man without pity, no matter how intelligent he may be, is at best only an intellectual beast, and if by withholding all assistance we could finally people the world with those who are actually self- supporting, we would have a population without sympathy, without charity -- that is to say, without goodness. In my judgment, it would be far better that none should exist. Mr. Van Norden takes the ground that the duty of the church is to save men's souls, and to minister to their bodies incidentally. I think that conditions have a vast deal to do with morality and goodness. If you wish to change the conduct of your fellowmen, the first thing to do is to change their conditions, their surroundings; in other words, to help them to help themselves -- help them to get away from bad influences, away from the darkness of ignorance, away from the temptations of poverty and want, not only into the light intellectually, but into the climate of Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 12 A REPLY TO REV. JOHN HALL AND WARNER VAN NORDEN. prosperity. It is useless to give a hungry man a religious tract, and it is almost useless to preach morality to those who are so situated that the necessity of the present, the hunger of the moment, overrides every other consideration. There is a vast deal of sophistry in hunger, and a good deal of persuasion in necessity. Prosperity is apt to make men selfish. They imagine that because they have succeeded, others and all others, might or may succeed. If any man will go over his own life honestly, he will find that he has not always succeeded because he was good, or that he has always failed because he was bad. He will find that many things happened with which he had nothing to do, for his benefit, and that, after all is said and done, he cannot account for all of his successes by his absolute goodness. So, if a man will think of all the bad things he has done -- of all the bad things he wanted to do -- of all the bad things he would have done had he had the chance, and had he known that detection was impossible, he will find but little foundation for egotism. Question. What do you say to this language of Mr. Van Norden. "It is best to teach people to rely upon their own resources. If the poor felt that they could get material help they would want it always, and in this day, if a man and woman cannot get along, it is their own fault"? Answer. All I can say is that I do not agree with him. Often there are many more men in a certain trade than there is work for such men. Often great factories shut down, leaving many thousands out of employment. You may say that it was the fault of these men that they learned that trade; that they might have known it would be overcrowded; so you may say it was the fault of the capitalist to start a factory in that particular line, because he should have known that it was to be overdone. As no man can look very far into the future, the truth is it was nobody's fault, and without fault thousands and thousands are thrown out of employment. Competition is so sharp, wages are so small, that to be out of employment for a few weeks means want. You cannot say that this is the fault of the man who wants bread. He certainly did not wish to go hungry; neither did he deliberately plan a failure. He did the best he could. There are plenty of bankers who fail in business, not because they wish to fail; so there are plenty of professional men who cannot make a living, yet it may not be their fault; and there are others who get rich, and it may not be by reason of their virtues. Without doubt, there are many people in the city of New York who cannot make a living. Competition is too sharp; life is too complex; consequently the percentage of failures is large. In savage life there are few failures, but in civilized life there are many. There are many thousands out of work and out of food in Berlin to-day. It can hardly be said to be their fault. So there are many thousands in London, and every other great city of the world. You cannot account for all this want by saying that the people who want are entirely to blame. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 13 A REPLY TO REV. JOHN HALL AND WARNER VAN NORDEN. A man gets rich, and he is often egotistic enough to think that his wealth was the result of his own unaided efforts; and he is sometimes heartless enough to say that others should get rich by following his example. Mr. Van Norden states that he has a typewriter who gets two dollars a day, and that she dresses better than the lords and ladies did of olden times. He must refer to the times of the Garden of Eden. Out of two dollars a day one must live, and there is very little left for gorgeous robes. I hardly think a lady is to be envied because she receives two dollars a day, and the probability is that the manner in which she dresses on that sum -- having first deducted the expenses of living -- is not calculated to excite envy. The philosophy of Mr. Van Norden seems to be concentrated into this line: "Where people are poor it is their own fault." Of course this is the death of all charity. We are then informed by this gentleman that "happiness does not lie in the enjoyment of material things -- that it is the soul that makes life worth living." Is it the soul without pity that makes life worth living? Is it the soul in which the blossom of charity has never shed its perfume that makes life so desirable? Is it the soul, having all material things, wrapped in the robes of prosperity, and that says to all the poor: It is your own fault; die of hunger if you must -- that makes life worth living? It may be asked whether it is worth while for such a soul to live. If this is the philosophy of Mr. Van Norden, I do not wish to visit his working girls' club, or to "hear girls who have been working all day singing hymns and following the leader in prayer." Why should a soul without pity pray? Why should any one ask God to be merciful to the poor if he is not merciful himself? For my own part, I would rather see poor people eat than to hear them pray. I would rather see them clothed comfortably than to see them shivering, and at the same time hear them sing hymns. It does not seem possible that any man can say that there are no worthy poor in this city who need material help. Neither does it seem possible that any man can say to one who is starving that if he wants money he must work for it. There are hundreds and thousands in this city willing to work who can find no employment. There are good and pure women standing between their children and starvation, living in rooms worse than cells in penitentiaries -- giving their own lives to their children -- hundreds and hundreds of martyrs bearing the cross of every suffering, worthy of the reverence and love of mankind. So there are men wandering about these streets in search of work, willing to do anything to feed the ones they love. Mr. Van Norden has not done himself Justice. I do not believe that he expresses his real sentiments. But, after all, why should we expect charity in a church that believes in the dogma of eternal pain? Why cannot the rich be happy here in their palaces, while the Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 14 A REPLY TO REV. JOHN HALL AND WARNER VAN NORDEN. poor suffer and starve in huts, when these same rich expect to enjoy heaven forever, with all the unbelievers in hell? Why should the agony of time interfere with their happiness, when the agonies of eternity will not and cannot affect their joy? But I have nothing against Dr. John Hall or Mr. Van Norden -- only against their ideas. END **** **** A REPLY TO THE REV. DR. PLUMB. Question. Last Sunday the Rev. Dr. Plumb paid some attention to the lecture which you delivered here on the 23rd of October. Have you read a report of it, and what have you to say? Answer. Dr. Plumb attacks not only myself, but the Rev. Mr. Mills. I do not know the position that Mr. Mills takes, but from what Dr. Plumb says, I suppose that he has mingled a little philosophy with his religion and some science with his superstition. Dr. Plumb appears to have successfully avoided both. His manners do not appear to me to be of the best. Why should he call an opponent coarse and blasphemous, simply because he does not happen to believe as he does? Is it blasphemous to say that this "poor" world never was visited by a Redeemer from Heaven, a majestic being -- unique -- peculiar -- who "trod the sea and hushed the storm and raised the dead"? Why does Dr. Plumb call this world a "poor" world? According to his creed, it was created by infinite wisdom, infinite goodness and infinite power. How dare he call the work of such a being "poor"? Is it not blasphemous for a Boston minister to denounce the work of the Infinite and say to God that he made a "poor" world? If I believed this world had been made by an infinitely wise and good Being, I should certainly insist that this is not a poor world, but, on the contrary, a perfect world. I would insist that everything that happens is for the best. Whether it looks wise or foolish to us, I would insist that the fault we thought we saw, lies in us and not in the infinitely wise and benevolent Creator. Dr. Plumb may love God, but he certainly regards him as a poor mechanic and a failure as a manufacturer. There Dr. Plumb, like all religious preachers, takes several things for granted; things that have not been established by evidence, and things which in their nature cannot be established. He tells us that this poor world was visited by a mighty Redeemer from Heaven. How does he know? Does he know where heaven is? Does he know that any such place exists? Is he perfectly sure that an infinite God would be foolish enough to make people who needed a redeemer? He also says that this Being "trod the sea, hushed the storm and raised the dead." Is there any evidence that this Being trod the sea? Any more evidence than that Venus rose from the foam of the ocean? Any evidence that he hushed the storm any more than Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 15 A REPLY TO THE REV. DR. PLUMB. there is that the storm comes from the cave of AEolus? Is there any evidence that he raised the dead? How would it be possible to prove that the dead were raised? How could we prove such a thing if it happened now? Who would believe the evidence? As a matter of fact, the witnesses themselves would not believe and could not believe until raising of the dead became so general as to be regarded as natural. Dr. Plumb knows, if he knows anything, that gospel gossip is the only evidence he has, or anybody has, that Christ trod the sea, hushed the storm and raised the dead. He also knows, if he knows anything, that these stories were not written until Christ himself had been dead for at least four generations. He knows also that these accounts were written at a time when the belief in miracles was almost universal, and when everything that actually happened was regarded of no particular importance, and only the things that did not happen were carefully written out with all the details. So Dr. Plumb says that this man who hushed the storm "spake as never man spake." Did the Doctor ever read Zeno? Zeno, who denounced human slavery many years before Christ was born? Did he ever read Epicurus, one of the greatest of the Greeks? Has he read anything from Buddha? Has he read the dialogues between Ariuna and Krishna? If he has, he knows that every great and splendid utterance of Christ was uttered centuries before he lived. Did he ever read Lao-tsze? If he did -- and this man lived many centuries before the coming of our Lord -- he knows that Lao-tsze said "we should render benefits for injuries. We should love our enemies, and we should not resist evil." So it will hardly do now to say that Christ spake as never man spake, because he repeated the very things that other men had said. So he says that I am endeavoring to carry people back to a dimly groping Socrates or a vague Confucius. Did Dr. Plumb ever read Confucius? Only a little while ago a book was published by Mr. Forlong showing the origin of the principal religion and the creeds that have been taught. In this book you will find the cream of Buddha, of Christ, of Zoroaster, and you will also find a few pages devoted to the philosophy of Confucius; and after you have read the others, then read what Confucius says, and you will find that his philosophy rises like a monolith touching the clouds, while the creeds and sayings of the others appear like heaps of stone or piles of rubbish. The reason of this is that Confucius was not simply a sentimentalist. He was not controlled entirely by feeling, but he had intelligence -- a great brain in which burned the torch of reason. Read Confucius, and you will think that he must have known the sciences of to-day; that is to say, the conclusions that have been reached by modern thinkers. It could have been easily said of Confucius in his day that he spake as never man had spoken, and it may be that after you read him you will change your mind just a little as to the wisdom and the intelligence contained in many of the sayings of our Lord. Dr. Plumb charges that Mr. Mills is trying to reconstruct theology. Whether he is right in this charge I do not know, but I do know that I am not trying to reconstruct theology. I am endeavoring to destroy it. I have no more confidence in theology Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 16 A REPLY TO THE REV. DR. PLUMB. than I have in astrology or in the black art. Theology is a science that exists wholly independent of facts, and that reaches conclusions without the assistance of evidence. It also scorns experience and does what little it can to do away with thought. I make a very great distinction between theology and real religion. I can conceive of no religion except usefulness. Now, here we are, men and women in this world, and we have certain faculties, certain senses. There are things that we can ascertain, and by developing our brain we can avoid mistakes, keep a few thorns out of our feet, a few thistles out of our hands, a few diseases from our flesh. In my judgment, we should use all our senses, gathering information from every possible quarter, and this information should be only used for the purpose of ascertaining the facts, for finding out the conditions of well-being, to the end that we may add to the happiness of ourselves and fellows. In other words, I believe in intellectual veracity and also in mental hospitality. To me reason is the final arbiter, and when I say reason, I mean my reason. It may be a very poor light, the flame small and flickering, but, after all, it is the only light I have, and never with my consent shall any preacher blow it out. Now, Dr. Plumb thinks that I am trying to despoil my fellow- men of their greatest inheritance; that is to say, divine Christ. Why do you call Christ good? Is it because he was merciful? Then why do you put him above mercy? Why do you call Christ good? Is it because he was just? Why do you put him before justice? Suppose it should turn out that no such person as Christ ever lived. What harm would that do justice or mercy? Wouldn't the tear of pity be as pure as now, and wouldn't justice, holding aloft her scales, from which she blows even the dust of prejudice, be as noble, as admirable as now? Is it not better to love justice and mercy than to love a name, and when you put a name above justice, above mercy, are you sure that you are benefiting your fellow-men? If Dr. Plumb wanted to answer me, why did he not take my argument instead of my motive? Why did he not point out my weakness instead of telling the consequences that would follow from my action? We have nothing to do with the consequences. I said that to believe without evidence, or in spite of evidence, was superstition. If that definition is correct. Dr. Plumb is a superstitious man, because he believes at least without evidence. What evidence has he that Christ was God? In the nature of things, how could he have evidence? The only evidence he pretends to have is the dream of Joseph, and he does not know that Joseph ever dreamed the dream, because Joseph did not write an account of his dream, so that Dr. Plumb has only hearsay for the dream, and the dream is the foundation of his creed. Now, when I say that that is superstition, Dr. Plumb charges me with being a burglar -- a coarse, blasphemous burglar -- who wishes to rob somebody of some great blessing. Dr. Plumb would not hesitate to tell a Mohammedan that Mohammed was an impostor. He would tell a Mormon in Utah that Joseph Smith was a vulgar liar and that Brigham Young was no better. In other words, if in Turkey, he would be a coarse and blasphemous burglar, and he would follow the Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 17 A REPLY TO THE REV. DR. PLUMB. same profession in Utah. So probably he would tell the Chinese that Confucius was an ignorant wretch and that their religion was idiotic, and the Chinese priest would denounce Dr. Plumb as a very coarse and blasphemous burglar, and Dr. Plumb would be perfectly astonished that a priest could be so low, so impudent and malicious. Of course my wonder is not excited. I have become used to it. If Dr. Plumb would think, if he would exercise his imagination a little and put himself in the place of others, he would think, in all probability, better things of his opponents. I do not know Dr. Plumb, and yet I have no doubt that he is a good and sincere man; a little superstitious, superficial, and possibly, mingled with his many virtues, there may be a little righteous malice. The Rev. Mr. Mills used to believe as Dr. Plumb does now, and I suppose he has changed for reasons that were sufficient for him. So I believe him to be an honest, conscientious man, and so far as I am concerned, I have no objection to Mr. Mills doing what little he can to get all the churches to act together. He may never succeed, but I am not responsible for that. So I have no objection to Dr. Plumb preaching what he believes to be the gospel. I admit that he is honest when he says that an infinitely good God made a poor world; that he made man and woman and put them in the Garden of Eden, and that this same God before that time had manufactured a devil, and that when he manufactured this devil, he knew that he would corrupt the man and woman that he had determined to make; that he could have defeated the devil, but that for a wise purpose, he allowed his Satanic Majesty to succeed; that at the time he allowed him to succeed, he knew that in consequence of his success that he (God) in about fifteen or sixteen hundred years would be compelled to drown the whole world with the exception of eight people. These eight people he kept for seed. At the time he kept them for seed, he knew that they were totally depraved, that they were saturated with the sin of Adam and Eve, and that their children would be their natural heirs. He also knew at the time he allowed the devil to succeed, that he (God), some four thousand years afterward, would be compelled to be born in Palestine as a babe, to learn the carpenter's trade, and to go about the country for three years preaching to the people and discussing with the rabbis of his chosen people, and he also knew that these chosen people -- these people who had been governed and educated by him, to whom he had sent a multitude of prophets, would at that time be so savage that they would crucify him, although he would be at that time the only sinless being who had ever stood upon the earth. This he knew would be the effect of his government, of his education of his chosen people. He also knew at the time he allowed the devil to succeed, that in consequence of that success a vast majority of the human race would become eternal convicts in the prison of hell. All this he knew, and yet Dr. Plumb insists that he was and is infinitely wise, infinitely powerful and infinitely good. What would this God have done if he had lacked wisdom, or power, or goodness? Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 18 A REPLY TO THE REV. DR. PLUMB. Of all the religions that man has produced, of all the creeds of savagery, there is none more perfectly absurd than Christianity. END **** **** A REPLY TO THE NEW YORK CLERGY ON SUPERSTITION. New York Journal, 1898. An Interview. Question. Have you followed the controversy, or rather, the interest manifested in the letters to the Journal which have followed your lecture of Sunday, and what do you think of them? Answer. I have read the letters and reports that have been published in the Journal. Some of them seem to be very sincere, some not quite honest, and some a little of both. The Rev. Robert S. MacArthur takes the ground that very many Christians do not believe in a personal devil, but are still Christians. He states that they hold that the references in the New Testament to the devil are simply to personifications of evil. and do not apply to any personal existence. He says that he could give the names of a number of pastors who hold such views. He does not state what his view is. Consequently, I do not know whether he is a believer in a personal devil or not. The statement that the references in the New Testament to a devil are simply to personifications of evil, not applying to any personal existence, seems to me utterly absurd. The references to devils in the New Testament are certainly as good and satisfactory as the references to angels. Now, are the angels referred to in the New Testament simply personifications of good, and are there no such personal existences? If devils are only personifications of evil, how is it that these personifications of evil could hold arguments with Jesus Christ? How could they talk back? How could they publicly acknowledge the divinity of Christ? As a matter of fact, the best evidences of Christ's divinity in the New Testament are the declarations of devils. These devils were supposed to be acquainted with supernatural things, and consequently knew a God when they saw one, whereas the average Jew, not having been a citizen of the celestial world, was unable to recognize a deity when he met him. Now, these personifications of evil, as Dr. MacArthur calls them, were of various kinds. Some of them were dumb, while others could talk, and Christ said, speaking of the dumb devils, that they were very difficult to expel from the bodies of men; that it required fasting and prayer to get them out. Now, did Christ mean that these dumb devils did not exist? That they were only "personifications of evil"? Now, we are also told in the New Testament that Christ was tempted by the devil; that is, by a "personification of evil," and that this personification took him to the pinnacle of the temple and tried to induce him to jump off. Now, where did his Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 19 A REPLY TO THE NEW YORK CLERGY ON SUPERSTITION. personification of evil come from? Was it an actual existence? Dr. MacArthur says that it may not have been. Then it did not come from the outside of Christ. If it existed it came from the inside of Christ, so that, according to MacArthur, Christ was the creator of his own devil. I do not know that I have a right to say that this is Dr. MacArthur's opinion, as he has wisely refrained from giving his opinion. I hope some time he will tell us whether he really believes in a devil or not, or whether he thinks all allusions and references to devils in the New Testament can be explained away by calling the devils "personifications of evil." Then, of course, he will tell us whether it was a "personification of evil" that offered Christ all the kingdoms of the world, and whether Christ expelled seven "personifications of evil" from Mary Magdalene, and how did they come to count these "personifications of evil"? If the devils, after all, are only "personifications of evil," then, of course, they cannot be numbered. They are all one. There may be different manifestations, but, in fact, there can be but one, and yet Mary Magdalene had seven. Dr. MacArthur states that I put up a man of straw, and then vigorously beat him down. Now, the question is, do I attack a man of straw? I take it for granted that Christians to some extent, at least, believe in their creeds. I suppose they regard the Bible as the inspired word of God; that they believe in the fall of man, in the atonement, in salvation by faith, in the resurrection and ascension of Christ. I take it for granted that they believe these things. Of course, the only evidence I have is what they say. Possibly that cannot be depended upon. They may be dealing only in the "personification of truth." When I charge the orthodox Christians with believing these things, I am told that I am far behind the religious thinking of the hour, but after all, this "man of straw" is quite powerful. Prof. Briggs attacked this "man of straw," and the straw man turned on him and put him out. A preacher by the name of Smith, a teacher in some seminary out in Ohio, challenged this "man of straw," and the straw man put him out. Both these reverend gentlemen were defeated by the straw man, and if the Rev. Dr. MacArthur will explain to his congregation, I mean only explain what he calls the "religious thinking of the hour," the "straw man" will put him out too. Dr. MacArthur finds fault with me because I put into the minds of representative thinkers of to-day the opinions of medieval monks, which leading religious teachers long ago discarded. Will Dr. MacArthur have the goodness to point out one opinion that I have put into the minds of representative thinkers -- that is, of orthodox thinkers -- that any orthodox religious teacher of to-day has discarded? Will he have the kindness to give just one? In my lecture on "Superstition" I did say that to deny the existence of evil spirits, or to deny the existence of the devil, is to deny the truth of the New Testament; and that to deny the existence of these imps of darkness is to contradict the words of Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 20 A REPLY TO THE NEW YORK CLERGY ON SUPERSTITION. Jesus Christ. I did say that if we give up the belief in devils we must give up the inspiration of the Old and New Testaments, and we must give up the divinity of Christ. Upon that declaration I stand, because if devils do not exist, then Jesus Christ was mistaken, or we have not in the New Testament a true account of what he said and of what he pretended to do. If the New Testament gives a true account of his words and pretended actions, then he did claim to cast out devils. That was his principal business. That was his certificate of divinity, casting out devils. That authenticated his mission and proved that he was superior to the hosts of darkness. Now, take the devil out of the New Testament, and you also take the veracity of Christ; with that veracity you take the divinity; with that divinity you take the atonement, and when you take the atonement, the great fabric known as Christianity becomes a shapeless ruin. Now, let Dr. MacArthur answer this, and answer it not like a minister, but like a man. Ministers are unconsciously a little unfair. They have a little tendency to what might be called a natural crook. They become spiritual when they ought to be candid. They become a little ingenious and pious when they ought to be frank; and when really driven into a corner, they clasp their hands. they look upward, and they cry "Blasphemy" I do not mean by this that they are dishonest. I simply mean that they are illogical. Dr. MacArthur tells us also that Spain is not a representative of progressive religious teachers. I admit that. There are no progressive religious teachers in Spain, and right here let me make a remark. If religion rests on an inspired revelation, it is incapable of progress. It may be said that year after year we get to understand it better, but if it is not understood when given, why is it called a "revelation"? There is no progress in the multiplication table. Some men are better mathematicians than others, but the old multiplication table remains the same. So there can be no progress in a revelation from God. Now, Spain -- and that is the great mistake, the great misfortune -- has remained orthodox. That is to say, the Spaniards have been true to their superstition. Of course the Rev. Dr. MacArthur will not admit that Catholicism is Christianity, and I suppose that the pope would hardly admit that a Baptist is a very successful Christian. The trouble with Spain is, and the trouble with the Baptist Church is, that neither of them has progressed to any great extent. Now, in my judgment, what is called religion must grow better as man grows better, simply because it was produced by man and the better man is, the nearer civilized he is, the better, the nearer civilized, will be what he calls his religion; and if the Baptist religion has progressed, it is a demonstration that it was not originally founded on a revelation from God. In my lecture I stated that we had no right to make any distinction between the actions of infinite wisdom and goodness, and that if God created and governs this world we ought to thank him, if we thanked him at all, for all that happens; that we should thank him just as heartily for famine and cyclone as for sunshine Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 21 A REPLY TO THE NEW YORK CLERGY ON SUPERSTITION. and harvest, and that if President McKinley thanked God for the victory at Santiago, he also should have thanked him for sending the yellow fever. I stand by these words. A finite being has no right to make any distinction between the actions of the infinitely good and wise. If God governs this world, then everything that happens is the very best that could happen. When A murders B, the best thing that could happen to A is to be a murderer and the best thing that could have happened to B was to be murdered. There is no escape from this if the world is governed by infinite wisdom and goodness. It will not do to try and dodge by saying that man is free. This God who made man and made him free knew exactly how he would use his freedom, and consequently this God cannot escape the responsibility for the actions of men. He made them. He knew exactly what they would do. He is responsible. If I could turn a piece of wood into a human being, and I knew that he would murder a man, who is the real murderer? But if Dr. MacArthur would think as much as he preaches, he would come much nearer agreeing with me. The Rev. Dr. J. Lewis Parks is very sorry that he cannot discuss Ingersoll's address, because to do so would be dignifying Ingersoll. Of course I deeply regret the refusal of Dr. J. Lewis Parks to discuss the address. I dislike to be compelled to go to the end of my life without being dignified. At the same time I will forgive the Rev. Dr. J. Lewis Parks for not answering me, because I know that he cannot. The Rev. Dr. Moldehnke, whose name seems chiefly made of consonants, denounces me as a scoffer and as illogical, and says that Christianity is not founded upon the devil, but upon Christ. He further says that we do not believe in such a thing as a devil in human form, but we know that there is evil, and that evil we call the devil. He hides his head under the same leaf with Dr. MacArthur by calling the devil evil. Now, is this gentleman willing to say that all the allusions to the devil in the Old and New Testaments can be harmonized with the idea that the devil is simply a personification of evil? Can he say this and say it honestly? But the Rev. Dr. Moldehnke, I think, seems to be consistent; seems to go along with the logic of his creed. He says that the yellow fever, if it visited our soldiers, came from God, and that we should thank God for it. He does not say the soldiers should thank God for it, or that those who had it should thank God for it. but that we should thank God for it, and there is this wonderful thing about Christianity. It enables us to bear with great fortitude, with a kind of sublime patience, the misfortunes of others. He says that this yellow fever works out God's purposes. Of course I am not as well acquainted with the Deity as the Rev. Moldehnke appears to be. I have not the faintest idea of what God's Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 22 A REPLY TO THE NEW YORK CLERGY ON SUPERSTITION. purposes are. He works, even according to his messengers, in such a mysterious way, that with the little reason I have I find it impossible to follow him. Why God should have any purpose that could be worked out with yellow fever, or cholera, or why he should ever ask the assistance of tapeworms, or go in partnership with cancers, or take in the plague as an assistant, I have never been able to understand. I do not pretend to know. I admit my ignorance, and after all, the Rev. Dr. Moldehnke may be right. It may be that everything that happens is for the best. At the same time, I do not believe it. There is a little old story on this subject that throws some light on the workings of the average orthodox mind. One morning the son of an old farmer came in and said to his father, "One of the ewe lambs is dead." "Well," said the father; "that is all for the best. Twins never do very well, any how." The next morning the son reported the death of the other lamb, and the old man said, "Well, that is all for the best; the old ewe will have more wool." The next morning the son said, "The old ewe is dead." "Well," replied the old man; "that may be for the best, but I don't see it this morning." The Rev. Mr. Hamlin has the goodness to say that my influence is on the wane. This is an admission that I have some, for which I am greatly obliged to him. He further states that all my arguments are easily refuted, but fails to refute them on the ground that such refutation might be an advertisement for me. Now, if Mr. Hamlin would think a little, he would see that there are some things in the lecture on "Superstition" worth the while even of a Methodist minister to answer. Does Mr. Hamlin believe in the existence of the devil? If he does, will he have the goodness to say who created the devil? He may say that God created him, as he is the creator of all. Then I ask Mr. Hamlin this question: Why did God create a successful rival? When God created the devil, did he not know at that time that he was to make this world? That he was to create Adam and Eve and put them in the Garden of Eden, and did he not know that this devil would tempt this Adam and Eve? That in consequence of that they would fall? That in consequence of that he would have to drown all their descendants except eight? That in consequence of that he himself would have to be born into this world as a Judean peasant? That he would have to be crucified and suffer for the sins of these people who had been misled by this devil that he deliberately created, and that after all he would be able only to save a few Methodists? Will the Rev. Mr. Hamlin have the goodness to answer this? He can answer it as mildly as he pleases, so that in any event it will be no advertisement for him. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 23 A REPLY TO THE NEW YORK CLERGY ON SUPERSTITION. The Rev. Mr. F.J. Belcher pays me a great compliment, for which I now return my thanks. He has the goodness to say, "Ingersoll in many respects is like Voltaire." I think no finer compliment has been paid me by any gentleman occupying a pulpit, for many years, and again I thank the Rev. Mr. Belcher. The Rev. W.D. Buchanan, does not seem to be quite fair. He says that every utterance of mine impresses men with my insincerity, and that every argument I bring forward is specious, and that I spend my time in ringing the changes on arguments that have been answered over and over again for hundreds of years. Now, Dr. Buchanan should remember that he ought not to attack motives; that you cannot answer an argument by vilifying the man who makes it. You must answer not the man, but the argument. Another thing this reverend gentleman should remember, and that is that no argument is old until it has been answered. An argument that has not been answered, although it has been put forward for many centuries, is still as fresh as a flower with the dew on its breast. It never is old until it has been answered. It is well enough for this gentleman to say that these arguments have been answered, and if they have and he knows that they have, of course it will be but a little trouble to him to repeat these answers. Now, my dear Dr. Buchanan, I wish to ask you some questions. Do you believe in a personal devil? Do you believe that the bodies of men and women become tenements for little imps and goblins and demons? Do you believe that the devil used to lead men and women astray? Do you believe the stories about devils that you find in the Old and New Testaments? Now, do not tell me that these questions have been answered long ago. Answer them now. And if you say the devil does exist, that he is a person, that he is an enemy of God, then let me ask you another question: Why should this devil punish souls in hell for rebelling against God? Why should the devil, who is an enemy of God, help punish God's enemies? This may have been answered many times, but one more repetition will do but little harm. Another thing: Do you believe in the eternity of punishment? Do you believe that God is the keeper of an eternal prison. the doors of which open only to receive sinners, and do you believe that eternal punishment is the highest expression of justice and mercy? If you had the power to change a stone into a human being, and you knew that that human being would be a sinner and finally go to hell and suffer eternal torture, would you not leave it stone? And if, knowing this, you changed the stone into a man, would you not be a fiend? Now, answer this fairly. I want nothing spiritual; nothing with the Presbyterian flavor; just good, honest talk, and tell us how that is. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 24 A REPLY TO THE NEW YORK CLERGY ON SUPERSTITION. I say to you that if there is a place of eternal torment or misery for any of the children of men -- I say to you that your God is a wild beast, an insane fiend, whom I abhor and despise with every drop of my blood. At the same time you may say whether you are up, according to Dr. MacArthur, with the religious thinking of the hour. The Rev. J.W. Campbell I rather like. He appears to be absolutely sincere. He is orthodox -- true blue. He believes in a devil; in an acting, thinking devil, and a clever devil. Of course he does not think this devil is as stout as God, but he is quicker; not quite as wise, but a little more cunning. According to Mr. Campbell, the devil is the bunco steerer of the universe -- king of the green goods men; but, after all, Mr. Campbell will not admit that if this devil does not exist the Christian creeds all crumble, but I think he will admit that if the devil does not exist, then Christ was mistaken, or that the writers of the New Testament did not truthfully give us his utterances. Now, if Christ was mistaken about the existence of the devil, maybe he was mistaken about the existence of God. In other words, if Christ made a mistake, then he was ignorant. Then we cannot say he was divine, although ignorance has generally believed in divinity. So I do not see exactly how Mr. Campbell can say that if the devil does not exist the Christian creeds do not crumble, and when I say Christian creeds I mean orthodox creeds. Is there any orthodox Christian creed without the devil in it? Now, if we throw away the devil we throw away original sin, the fall of man, and we throw away the atonement. Of this arch the devil is the keystone. Remove him, the arch falls. Now, how can you say that an orthodox Christian creed remains intact without crumbling when original sin, the fall of man, the atonement and the existence of the devil are all thrown aside? Of course if you mean by Christianity, acting like Christ, being good, forgiving, that is another matter, but that is not Christianity. Orthodox Christians say that a man must believe on Christ, must have faith, and that to act as Christ did, is not enough; that a man who acts exactly as Christ did, dying without faith, would go to hell. So when Mr. Campbell speaks of a Christian, I suppose he means an orthodox Christian. Now, Dr. Campbell not only knows that the devil exists, but he knows a good deal about him. He knows that he can assume every conceivable disguise or shape; that he can go about like a roaring lion; that at another time he is a god of this world; on another occasion a dragon, and in the afternoon of the same day may be Lucifer, an angel of light, and all the time, I guess, a prince of lies. So he often assumes the disguise of the serpent. So the Doctor thinks that when the devil invited Christ into the wilderness to tempt him, that he adopted some disguise that made him more than usually attractive. Does the Doctor think that Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 25 A REPLY TO THE NEW YORK CLERGY ON SUPERSTITION. Christ could not see through the disguise? Was it possible for the devil with a mask to fool God, his creator? Was it possible for the devil to tempt Christ by offering him the kingdoms of the earth when they already belonged to Christ, and when Christ knew that the devil had no title, and when the devil knew that Christ knew that he had no title, and when the devil knew that Christ knew that he was the devil, and when the devil knew that he was Christ? Does the reverend gentleman still think that it was the disguise of the devil that tempted Christ? I would like some of these questions answered, because I have a very inquiring mind. So Mr. Campbell tells us -- and it is very good and comforting of him -- that there is a time coming when the devil shall deceive the nations no more. He also tells us that God is more powerful than the devil, and that he is going to put an end to him. Will Mr. Campbell have the goodness to tell me why God made the devil? If he is going to put an end to him why did he start him? Was it not a waste of raw material to make him? Was it not unfair to let this devil, so powerful, so cunning, so attractive, into the Garden of Eden, and put Adam and Eve, who were then scarcely half dry, within his power, and not only Adam and Eve within his power, but their descendants, so that the slime of the serpent has been on every babe, and so that, in consequence of what happened in the Garden of Eden, flames will surround countless millions in the presence of the most merciful God? Now, it may be that the Rev. Dr. Campbell can explain all these things. He may not care to do it for my benefit, but let him think of his own congregation; of the lambs he is protecting from the wolves of doubt and thought. The Rev. Henry Frank appears to be a man of exceedingly good sense; one who thinks for himself, and who has the courage of his convictions. Of course I am sorry that he does not agree with me, but I have become used to that, and so I thank him for the truths he utters. He does not believe in the existence of a personal devil, and I guess by following him up we would find that he did not believe in the existence of a personal God, or in the inspiration of the Scriptures. In fact. he tells us that he has given up the infallibility of the Bible. At the same time he says it is the most perfect compendium of religious and moral thought. In that I think he is a little mistaken. There is a vast deal of irreligion in the Bible, and there is a good deal of immoral thought in the Bible; but I agree with him that it is neither inspired nor infallible. The Rev. E.C.J. Kraeling, pastor of the Zion Lutheran Church, declares that those who do not believe in a personal God do not believe in a personal Satan, and vice versa. The one, he says, necessitates the other. In this I do not think he is quite correct. I think many people believe in a personal God who do not believe in a personal devil, but I know of none who do believe in a personal Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 26 A REPLY TO THE NEW YORK CLERGY ON SUPERSTITION. devil who do not also believe in a personal God. The orthodox generally believe in both of them, and for many centuries Christians spoke with great respect of the devil. They were afraid of him. But I agree with the Rev. Mr. Kraeling when he says that to deny a personal Satan is to deny the infallibility of God's word. I agree with this because I suppose by "God's word" he means the Bible. He further says, and I agree with him, that a "Christian" needs no scientific argument on which to base his belief in the personality of Satan. That certainly is true, and if a Christian does need a scientific argument it is equally true that he never will have one. You see this word "Science" means something that somebody knows; not something that somebody guesses, or wishes, or hopes, or believes, but something that somebody knows. Of course there cannot be any scientific argument proving the existence of the devil. At the same time I admit, as the Rev. Mr. Kraeling says. and I thank him for his candor, that the Bible does prove the existence of the devil from Genesis to the Apocalypse, and I do agree with him that the "revealed word" teaches the existence of a personal devil, and that all truly orthodox Christians believe that there is a personal devil, and the Rev. Mr. Kraeling proves this by the fall of man, and he proves that without this devil there could be no redemption for the evil spirits; so he brings forward the temptation of Christ in the wilderness. At the same time that Mr. Kraeling agrees with me as to what the Bible says, he insists that I bring no arguments, that I blaspheme, and then he drops into humor and says that if any further arguments are needed to prove the existence of the devil, that I furnish them. How a man believing the creed of the orthodox Mr. Kraeling can have anything like a sense of humor is beyond even my imagination. Now, I want to ask Mr. Kraeling a few questions, and I will ask him the same questions that I ask all orthodox people in my lecture on "Superstition." Now, Mr. Kraeling believes that this world was created by a being of infinite wisdom, power and goodness, and that the world he created has been governed by him. Now, let me ask the reverend gentleman a few plain questions, with the request that he answer them without mist or mystery. If you, Mr. Kraeling, had the power to make a world, would you make an exact copy of this? Would you make a man and woman, put them in a garden, knowing that they would be deceived, knowing that they would fall? Knowing that all the consequences believed in by orthodox Christians would follow from, that fall? Would you do it? And would you make your world so as to provide for earthquakes and cyclones? Would you create the seeds of disease and scatter them in the air and water? Would you so arrange matters as to produce cancers? Would you provide for plague and pestilence? Would you so Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 27 A REPLY TO THE NEW YORK CLERGY ON SUPERSTITION. make your world that life should feed on life, that the quivering flesh should be torn by tooth and beak and claw? Would you? Now, answer fairly. Do not quote Scripture; just answer, and be honest. Would you make different races of men? Would you make them of different colors, and would you so make them that they would persecute and enslave each other? Would you so arrange matters that millions and millions should toil through many generations, paid only by the lash on the back? Would you have it so that millions and millions of babes would be sold from the breasts of mothers? Be honest. Would you provide for religious persecution? For the invention and use of instruments of torture? Would you see to it that the rack was not forgotten, and that the fagot was not overlooked or unlighted? Would you make a world in which the wrong would triumph? Would you make a world in which innocence would not be a shield? Would you make a world where the best would be loaded with chains? Where the best would die in the darkness of dungeons? Where the best would make scaffolds sacred with their blood? Would you make a world where hypocrisy and cunning and fraud should represent God, and where meanness would suck the blood of honest credulity? Would you provide for the settlement of all difficulties by war? Would you so make your world that the weak would bear the burdens, so that woman would be a slave, so that children would be trampled upon as though they were poisonous reptiles? Would you fill the woods with wild beasts? Would you make a few volcanoes to overwhelm your children? Would you provide for earthquakes that would swallow them? Would you make them ignorant, savage, and fill their minds with all the phantoms of horror? Would you? Now, it will only take you a few moments to answer these questions, and if you say you would, then I shall be satisfied that you believe in the orthodox God, and that you are as bad as he. If you say you would not, I will admit that there is a little dawn of intelligence in your brain. At the same time I want it understood with regard to all these ministers that I am a friend of theirs. I am trying to civilize their congregations, so that the congregations may allow the ministers to develop, to grow, to become really and truly intelligent. The process is slow, but it is sure. **** **** Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship. 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 28


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