Robert G. Ingersoll is one of my heroes. He confronted religious faith and showed that it was nothing more than primitive superstition. At the end of the 19th century, he had accumulated quite a following for what he called “freethought,” based on reason, logic and experience. Sadly, he died in 1899 at 66, far too soon. He still had much work to do, and nobody of his stature arose to take his place. His writings, speeches and debates are collected in twelve volumes which can be found at Project Gutenberg and downloaded free. You will be greatly rewarded if you read them.
Here is a sample of his writings. He called it his Creed.
We have no falsehoods to defend—We want the facts;
Our force, our thought, we do not spend in vain attacks.
And we will never meanly try to save some fair and pleasing lie.
The simple truth is what we ask, not the ideal;
We’ve set ourselves the noble task to find the real.
If all there is naught but dross, we want to know and bear our loss.
We will not willingly be fooled by fables nursed;
Our hearts, by earnest thought, are schooled to bear the worst;
And we can stand erect and dare all things, all facts that really are.
We have no God to serve or fear, no hell to shun, no devil with malicious leer.
When life is done an endless sleep may close our eyes,
A sleep with neither dreams nor sighs.
We have no master on the land—no king in air.
Without a manacle we stand, without a prayer.
Without a fear of coming night, we seek the truth, we love the light.
We do not bow before a guess, a vague unknown;
A senseless force we do not bless in solemn tone.
When evil comes we do not curse, or thank because it is no worse.
When cyclones rend—when lightning blights, ’tis naught but fate;
There is no God of wrath who smites in heartless hate.
Behind the things that injure man there is no purpose, thought, or plan.
We waste no time in useless dread, in trembling fear;
The present lives, the past is dead, and we are here.
All welcome guests at life’s great feast—
We need no help from ghost or priest.
Our life is joyous, jocund, free—
Not one a slave who bends in fear the trembling knee,
And seeks to save a coward soul from future pain.
Not one will cringe or crawl for gain.
The jeweled cup of love we drain.
And friendship’s wine now swiftly flows in every vein with warmth divine.
And so we love and hope and dream that in death’s sky there is a gleam.
We walk according to our light.
Pursue the path that leads to honor’s stainless height.
Careless of wrath or curse of God, or priestly spite,
Longing to know and do the right.
We love our fellow-man, our kind, wife, child, and friend.
To phantoms we are deaf and blind,
But we extend the helping hand to the distressed;
By lifting others we are blessed.
Love’s sacred flame within the heart and friendship’s glow;
While all the miracles of art their wealth bestow.
Upon the thrilled and joyous brain, and present raptures banish pain.
We love no phantoms of the skies, but living flesh,
With passion’s soft and soulful eyes, lips warm and fresh,
And cheeks with health’s red flag unfurled,
The breathing angels of this world.
The hands that help are better far than lips that pray.
Love is the ever gleaming star that leads the way,
That shines, not on vague worlds of bliss, but on a paradise in this.
We do not pray, or weep, or wail;
We have no dread, no fear to pass beyond the veil that hides the dead.
And yet we question, dream, and guess,
But knowledge we do not possess.
We ask, yet nothing seems to know; We cry in vain.
There is no “master of the show” who will explain,
Or from the future tear the mask;
And yet we dream, and still we ask
Is there beyond the silent night an endless day?
Is death a door that leads to light?
We cannot say.
The tongueless secret locked in fate
We do not know.
We hope and wait.