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Talmage Interview 4
Robert Green Ingersoll
18 page printout. Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship. **** **** 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 **** **** INTERVIEWS ON REV. TALMAGE. FOURTH INTERVIEW. 1882 SON. There is no devil. MOTHER. I know there is. SON. How do you know. MOTHER. Because they make pictures that look just like him. SON. But, Mother -- MOTHER. Don't "mother" me! You are trying to disgrace your parents. ***** ***** QUESTION. I want to ask you a few questions about Mr. Talmage's fourth sermon against you, entitled: "The Meanness of Infidelity," in which he compares you to Jehoiakim, who had the temerity to throw some of the writings of the weeping Jeremiah into the fire? ANSWER. So far as I am concerned, I really regret that a second edition of Jeremiah's roll was gotten out. It would have been far better for us all, if it had been left in ashes. There was nothing but curses and prophecies of evil, in the sacred roll that Jehoiakim burned. The Bible tells us that Jehovah became exceedingly wroth because of the destruction of this roll, and pronounced a curse upon Jehoiakim and upon Palestine. I presume it was on account of the burning of that roll that the king of Babylon destroyed the chosen people of God. It was on account of that sacrilege that the Lord said of Jehoiakim: "He shall have none to sit upon the throne of David; and his dead body shall be cast out in the day to the heat, and in the night to the "frost." Any one can see how much a dead body would suffer under such circumstances. Imagine an infinitely wise, good and powerful God taking vengeance on the corpse of a barbarian king! What joy there must have been in heaven as the angels watched the alternate melting and freezing of the dead body of Jehoiakim! Jeremiah was probably the most accomplished croaker of all time. Nothing satisfied him. He was a prophetic pessimist, -- an ancient Bourbon. He was only happy when predicting war, pestilence and famine. No wonder Jehoiakim despised him, and hated all he wrote. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 1 FOURTH INTERVIEW ON TALMAGE One can easily see the character of Jeremiah from the following occurrence: When the Babylonians bad succeeded in taking Jerusalem, and in sacking the city, Jeremiah was unfortunately taken prisoner; but Captain Nebuzaradan came to Jeremiah, and told him that he would let him go, because he had prophesied against his own country. He was regarded as a friend by the enemy. There was, at that time, as now, the old fight between the church and the civil power. Whenever a king failed to do what the priests wanted, they immediately prophesied overthrow, disaster, and defeat. Whenever the kings, would hearken to their voice, and would see to it that the priests had plenty to eat and drink and wear, then they all declared that Jehovah would love that king, would let him live out all his days, and allow his son to reign in his stead. It was simply the old conflict that is still being waged, and it will be carried on until universal civilization does away with priestcraft and superstition. The priests in the days of Jeremiah were the same as now. They sought to rule the State. They pretended that, at their request, Jehovah would withhold or send the rain; that the seasons were within their power; that they with bitter words could blight the fields and curse the land with want and death. They gloried then, as now. in the exhibition of God's wrath. In prosperity, the priests were forgotten. Success scorned them; Famine flattered them; Health laughed at them; Pestilence prayed to them; Disaster was their only friend. These old prophets prophesied nothing but evil, and consequently, when anything bad happened, they claimed it as a fulfillment, and pointed with pride to the fact that they had, weeks or months, or year before, foretold something of that kind. They were really the originators of the phrase, "I told you so!" There was a good old Methodist class-leader that lived down near a place called Liverpool, on the Illinois river. In the spring of 1861 the old man, telling his experience, among other things said, that he had lived there by the river for more than thirty years, and he did not believe that a year had passed that there were not hundreds of people during the hunting season shooting ducks on Sunday; that he had told his wife thousands of times that no good would come of it; that evil would come of it; "And "now," said the old man, raising his voice with the importance of the announcement, "war is upon us!" QUESTION. Do you wish, as Mr. Talmage says, to destroy the Bible -- to have all the copies burned to ashes? What do you wish to have done with the Bible? ANSWER. I want the Bible treated exactly as we treat other books -- preserve the good and throw away the foolish and the hurtful. I am fighting the doctrine of inspiration. As long as it is believed that the Bible is inspired, that book is the master -- no mind is free. With that belief, intellectual liberty is impossible. With that belief, you can investigate only at the risk of losing your soul. The Catholics have a pope. Protestants laugh at them, and yet the pope is capable of intellectual advancement. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 2 FOURTH INTERVIEW ON TALMAGE In addition to this, the pope is mortal, and the church cannot be afflicted with the same idiot forever. The Protestants have a book for their pope. The book cannot advance. year after year, and century after century, the book remains as ignorant as ever. It is only made better by those who believe in its inspiration giving better meanings to the words than their ancestors did. In this way it may be said that the Bible grows a little better. Why should we have a book for a master? That which otherwise might be a blessing, remains a curse. If every copy of the Bible were destroyed, all that is good in that book would be reproduced in a single day. Leave every copy of the Bible as it is, and have every human being believe in its inspiration, and intellectual liberty would cease to exist. The whole race, from that moment, would go back toward the night of intellectual death. The Bible would do more harm if more people really believed it, and acted in accordance with its teachings. Now and then a man puts the knife to the heart of his child. Now and then an assassin relies upon some sacred passage; but, as a rule, few men believe the Bible to be absolutely true. There are about fifteen hundred million people in the world. There are not two million who have read the Bible through. There are not two hundred million who ever saw the Bible. There are not five hundred million who ever heard that such a book exists. Christianity is claimed to be a religion for all mankind. It was founded more than eighteen centuries ago; and yet, not one human being in three has ever heard of it. As a matter of fact, for more than fourteen centuries and-a-half after the crucifixion of Christ, this hemisphere was absolutely unknown. There was not a Christian in the world who knew there was such a continent as ours, and all the inhabitants of this, the New World, were deprived of the gospel for fourteen centuries and-a-half, and knew nothing. of its blessings until they were informed by Spanish murderers and marauders. Even in the United States, Christianity is not keeping pace with the increase of population. When we take into consideration that it is aided by the momentum of eighteen centuries, is it not wonderful that it is not to-day holding its own? The reason of this is, that we are beginning to understand the Scriptures. We are beginning to see, and to see clearly, that they are simply of human origin, and that the Bible bears the marks of the barbarians who wrote it. The best educated among the clergy admit that we know but little as to the origin of the gospels; that we do not positively know the author of one of them; that it is really a matter of doubt as to who wrote the five books attributed to Moses. They admit now, that Isaiah was written by more than one person; that Solomon's Song was not written by that king; that Job is, in all probability, not a Jewish book; that Ecclesiastes must have been written by a Freethinker, and by one who had his doubts about the immortality of the soul. The best biblical students of the so-called orthodox world now admit that several stories were united to make the gospel of Saint Luke; that Hebrews is a selection from many fragments, and that no human being, not afflicted with delirium tremens, can understand the book of Revelation. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 3 FOURTH INTERVIEW ON TALMAGE I am not the only one engaged in the work of destruction. Every Protestant who expresses a doubt as to the genuineness of a passage, is destroying the Bible. The gentlemen who have endeavored to treat hell as a question of syntax, and to prove that eternal punishment depends upon grammar, are helping to bring the Scriptures into contempt. Hundreds of years ago, the Catholics told the Protestant world that it was dangerous to give the Bible to the people. The Catholics were right; the Protestants were wrong. To read is to think. To think is to investigate. To investigate is, finally, to deny. That book should have been read only by priests. Every copy should have been under the lock and key of bishop, cardinal and pope. The common people should have received the Bible from the lips of the ministers. The world should have been kept in ignorance. In that way, and in that way only, could the pulpit have maintained its power. He who teaches a child the alphabet sows the seeds of heresy. I have lived to see the schoolhouse in many a village larger than the church. Every man who finds a fact, is the enemy of theology. Every man who expresses an honest thought is a soldier in the army of intellectual liberty. QUESTION. Mr. Talmage thinks that you laugh too much, -- that you exhibit too much mirth, and that no one should smile at sacred things? ANSWER. The church has always feared ridicule. The minister despises laughter. He who builds upon ignorance and awe, fears intelligence and mirth. The theologians always begin by saying: "Let us be solemn." They know that credulity and awe are twins. They also know that while Reason is the pilot of the soul, Humor carries the lamp. Whoever has the sense of humor fully developed, cannot, by any possibility, be an orthodox theologian. He would be his own laughing stock. The most absurd stories, the most laughable miracles, read in a solemn, stately way, sound to the ears of ignorance and awe like truth. It has been the object of the church for eighteen hundred years to prevent laughter. A smile is the dawn of a doubt. Ministers are always talking about death, and coffins, and dust, and worms, -- the cross in this life, and the fires of another. They have been the enemies of human happiness. They hate to hear even the laughter of children. There seems to have been a bond of sympathy between divinity and dyspepsia, between theology and indigestion. There is a certain pious hatred of pleasure, and those who have been "born again" are expected to despise "the transitory joys of this fleeting life." In this, they follow the example of their prophets, of whom they proudly say: "They never smiled." Whoever laughs at a holy falsehood, is called a "scoffer." Whoever gives vent to his natural feelings is regarded as a "blasphemer," and whoever examines the Bible as he examines other books, and relies upon his reason to interpret it, is denounced as a "reprobate." Let us respect the truth, let us laugh at miracles, and above all, let us be candid with each other. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 4 FOURTH INTERVIEW ON TALMAGE QUESTION. Mr. Talmage charges that you have, in your lectures, satirized your early home; that you have described with bitterness the Sundays that were forced upon you in your youth; and that in various ways you have denounced your father as a "tyrant," or a "bigot," or a "fool"? ANSWER. I have described the manner in which Sunday was kept when I was a boy. My father for many years regarded the Sabbath as a sacred day. We kept Sunday as most other Christians did. I think that my father made a mistake about that day. I have no doubt he was honest about it, and really believed that it was pleasing to God for him to keep the Sabbath as he did. I think that Sunday should not be a day of gloom, of silence and despair, or a day in which to hear that the chances are largely in favor of your being eternally damned. That day, in my opinion, should be one of joy; a day to get acquainted with your wife and children; a day to visit the woods, or the sea, or the murmuring stream; a day to gather flowers, to visit the graves of your dead, to read old poems, old letters, old books; a day to rekindle the fires of friendship and love. Mr. Talmage says that my father was a Christian, and he then proceeds to malign his memory. It seems to me that a living Christian should at least tell the truth about one who sleeps the silent sleep of death. I have said nothing, in any of my lectures, about my father, or about my mother, or about any of my relatives. I have not the egotism to bring them forward. They have nothing to do with the subject in hand. That my father was mistaken upon the subject of religion, I have no doubt. He was a good, a brave and honest man. I loved him living, and I love him dead. I never said to him an unkind word, and in my heart there never was of him an unkind thought. He was grand enough to say to me, that I had the same right to my opinion that he had to his. He was great enough to tell me to read the Bible for myself, to be honest with myself, and if after reading it I concluded it was not the word of God. that it was my duty to say so. My mother died when I was but a child; and from that day -- the darkest of my life -- her memory has been within my heart a sacred thing, and I have felt, through all these years, her kisses on my lips. I know that my parents -- if they are conscious now -- do not wish me to honor them at the expense of my manhood. I know that neither my father nor my mother would have me sacrifice upon their graves my honest thought. I know that I can only please them by being true to myself, by defending what I believe is good, by attacking what I believe is bad. Yet this minister of Christ is cruel enough, and malicious enough, to attack the reputation of the dead. What he says about my father is utterly and unqualifiedly false. Right here, it may be well enough for me to say, that long before my father died, he threw aside, as unworthy of a place in Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 5 FOURTH INTERVIEW ON TALMAGE the mind of an intelligent man, the infamous dogma of eternal fire; that he regarded with abhorrence many passages in the Old Testament; that he believed man, in another world, would have the eternal opportunity of doing right, and that the pity of God would last as long as the suffering of man. My father and my mother were good, in spite of the Old Testament. They were merciful, in spite of the one frightful doctrine in the New. They did not need the religion of Presbyterianism. Presbyterianism never made a human being better. If there is anything that will freeze the generous current of the soul, it is Calvinism. If there is any creed that will destroy charity, that will keep the tears of pity from the cheeks of men and women, it is Presbyterianism. If there is any doctrine calculated to make man bigoted, unsympathetic, and cruel, it is the doctrine of predestination. Neither my father, nor my mother, believed in the damnation of babes, nor in the inspiration of John Calvin. Mr. Talmage professes to be a Christian. What effect has the religion of Jesus Christ had upon him? Is he the product -- the natural product -- of Christianity? Does the real Christian violate the sanctity of death? Does the real Christian malign the memory of the dead? Does the good Christian. defame unanswering and unresisting dust? But why should I expect kindness from a Christian? Can a minister be expected to treat with fairness a man whom his God intends to damn? If a good God is going to burn an infidel forever, in the world to come, surely a Christian should have the right to persecute him a little here. What right has a Christian to ask anybody to love his father, or mother, or wife, or child? According to the gospels, Christ offered a reward to any one who would desert his father or his mother. He offered a premium to gentlemen for leaving their wives, and tried to bribe people to abandon their little children. He offered them happiness in this world, and a hundred fold in the next, if they would turn a deaf ear to the supplications of a father, the beseeching cry of a wife, and would leave the outstretched arms of babes. They were not even allowed to bury their fathers and their mothers. At that time they were expected to prefer Jesus to their wives and children. And now an orthodox minister says that a man ought not to express his honest thoughts, because they do not happen to be in accord with the belief of his father or mother. Suppose Mr. Talmage should read the Bible carefully and without fear, and should come to the honest conclusion that it is not inspired, what course would he pursue for the purpose of honoring his parents? Would he say, "I cannot tell the truth, I must lie, for the purpose of shedding a halo of glory around the memory of my mother"? Would he say: "Of course, my father and mother would a thousand times rather have their son a hypocritical Christian than an honest, manly unbeliever"? This might please Mr. Talmage, and accord perfectly with his view, but I prefer to say, that my father wished me to be an honest man. If he is in "heaven" now, I am sure that he would rather hear me attack the "inspired" Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 6 FOURTH INTERVIEW ON TALMAGE word of God, honestly and bravely, than to hear me, in the solemn accents of hypocrisy, defend what I believe to be untrue. I may be mistaken in the estimate angels put upon human beings. It may be that God likes a pretended follower better than an honest, outspoken man -- one who is an infidel simply because he does not understand this God. But it seems to me, in my unregenerate condition, touched and tainted as I am by original sin, that a God of infinite power and wisdom ought to be able to make a man brave enough to have an opinion of his own. I cannot conceive of God taking any particular pride in any hypocrite he has ever made. Whatever he may say through his ministers, or whatever the angels may repeat, a manly devil stands higher in my estimation than an unmanly angel. I do not mean by this, that there are any unmanly angels, neither do I pretend that there are any manly devils. My meaning is this: If I have a Creator, I can only honor him by being true to myself and kind and just to my fellow-men. If I wish to shed lustre upon my father and mother, I can only do so by being absolutely true to myself. Never will I lay the wreath of hypocrisy upon the tombs of those I love. Mr. Talmage takes the ground that we must defend the religious belief of our parents. He seems to forget that all parents do not believe exactly alike, and that everybody has at least two parents. Now, suppose that the father is an infidel, and the mother a Christian, what must the son do? Must he "drive the ploughshare of contempt through the grave of the father," for the purpose of honoring the mother; or must he drive the ploughshare through the grave of the mother to honor the father; or must he compromise, and talk one way and believe another? If Mr. Talmage's doctrine is correct, only persons who have no knowledge of their parents can have liberty of opinion. Foundlings would be the only free people. I do not suppose that Mr. Talmage would go so far as to say that a child would be bound by the religion of the person upon whose door- steps he was found. If he does not, then over every foundling hospital should be these words: "Home of Intellectual Liberty." QUESTION. Do you suppose that we will care nothing in the next world for those we loved in this? Is it worse in a man than in an angel, to care nothing for his mother? ANSWER. According to Mr. Talmage, a man can be perfectly happy in heaven, with his mother in hell. He will be so entranced with the society of Christ, that he will not even inquire what has become of his wife. The Holy Ghost will keep him in such a state of happy wonder, of ecstatic Joy, that the names, even, of his children will never invade his memory. It may be that I am lacking in filial affection, but I would much rather be in hell, with my parents in heaven, than be in heaven with my parents in hell. I think a thousand times more of my parents than I do of Christ. They knew me, they worked for me, they loved me, and I can imagine no heaven, no state of perfect bliss for me, in which they have no share. If God hates me, because I love them, I cannot love him. I cannot truthfully say that I look forward with any great degree of joy, to meeting with Haggai and Habakkuk; with Jeremiah, Nehemiah, Obadiah, Zechariah or Zephaniah; with Ezekiel, Micah, or Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 7 FOURTH INTERVIEW ON TALMAGE Malachi; or even with Jonah. From what little I have read of their writings, I have not formed a very high opinion of the social qualities of these gentlemen. I want to meet the persons I have known: and if there is another life, I want to meet the really and the truly great -- men who have been broad enough to be tender, and great enough to be kind. Because I differ with my parents, because I am convinced that my father was wrong in some of his religious opinions, Mr. Talmage insists that I disgrace my parents. How did the Christian religion commence? Did not the first disciples advocate theories that their parents denied? Were they not falser -- in his sense of the word, -- to their fathers and mothers? How could there have been any progress in this world, if children had not gone beyond their parents? Do you consider that the inventor of a steel plow cast a slur upon his father who scratched the ground with a wooden one? I do not consider that an invention by the son is a slander upon the father; I regard each invention simply as an improvement; and every father should be exceedingly proud of an ingenious son. If Mr. Talmage has a son, it will be impossible far him to honor his father except by differing with him. It is very strange that Mr. Talmage, a believer in Christ, should object to any man for not loving his mother and his father, when his Master, according to the gospel of Saint Luke, says: "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." According to this, I have to make my choice between my wife, my children, and Jesus Christ. I have concluded to stand by my folks -- both in this world, and in "the world to come." QUESTION. Mr. Talmage asks you whether, in your judgment, the Bible was a good, or an evil, to your parents? ANSWER. I think it was an evil. The worst thing about my father was his religion. He would have been far happier, in my judgment, without it. I think I get more real joy out of life than he did. He was a man of a very great and tender heart. He was continually thinking -- for many years of his life -- of the thousands and thousands going down to eternal fire. That doctrine filled his days with gloom, and his eyes with tears. I think that my father and mother would have been far happier had they believed as I do. How any one can get any joy out of the Christian religion is past my comprehension. If that religion is true, hundreds of millions are now in hell, and thousands of millions yet unborn will be. How such a fact can form any part of the "glad tidings of great joy," is amazing to me. It is impossible for me to love a being who would create countless millions for eternal pain. It is impossible for me to worship the God of the Bible, or the God of Calvin, or the God of the Westminster Catechism. QUESTION. I see that Mr. Talmage challenges you to read the fourteenth chapter of Saint John. Are you willing to accept the challenge; or have you ever read that chapter? Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 8 FOURTH INTERVIEW ON TALMAGE ANSWER. I do not claim to be very courageous, but I have read that chapter, and am very glad that Mr. Talmage has called attention to it. According to the gospels, Christ did many miracles. He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, made the lame walk, and raised the dead. In the fourteenth chapter of Saint John, twelfth verse, I find the following: "Verily, verily, I say unto you: He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do, because I go unto my Father." I am willing to accept that as a true test of a believer. If Mr. Talmage really believes in Jesus Christ, he ought to he able to do at least as great miracles as Christ is said to have done. Will Mr. Talmage have the kindness to read the fourteenth chapter of John, and then give me some proof, in accordance with that chapter, that he is a believer in Jesus Christ? Will he have the kindness to perform a miracle? -- for instance, produce a "local flood," make a worm to smite a gourd, or "prepare a fish"? Can he do anything of that nature? Can he even cause a "vehement east wind"? What evidence, according to the Bible, can Mr. Talmage give of his belief? How does he prove that he is a Christian? By hating infidels and maligning Christians? Let Mr. Talmage furnish the evidence, according to the fourteenth chapter of Saint John, or forever after hold his peace. He has my thanks for calling my attention to the fourteenth chapter of Saint John. QUESTION. Mr. Talmage charges that you are attempting to destroy the "chief solace of the world," without offering any substitute. How do you answer this? ANSWER. If he calls Christianity the "chief solace of the world," and if by Christianity he means that all who do not believe in the inspiration of the Scriptures, and have no faith in Jesus Christ, are to be eternally damned, then I admit that I am doing the best I can to take that "solace" from the human heart. I do not believe that the Bible, when properly understood, is, or ever has been, a comfort to any human being. Surely, no good man can be comforted by reading a book in which he finds that a large majority of mankind have been sentenced to eternal fire. In the doctrine of total depravity there is no "solace." In the doctrine of "election" there can be no joy until the returns are in, and a majority found for you. QUESTION. Mr. Talmage says that you are taking away the world's medicines, and in place of anaesthetic, in place of laudanum drops, you read an essay to the man in pain, on the absurdities of morphine and nervines in general. ANSWER. It is exactly the other way. I say, let us depend upon morphine, not upon prayer. Do not send for the minister -- take a little laudanum. Do not read your Bible, -- chloroform is better. Do not waste your time listening to meaningless sermons, but take real, genuine soporifics. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 9 FOURTH INTERVIEW ON TALMAGE I regard the discoverer of ether as a benefactor. I look upon every great surgeon as a blessing to mankind. I regard one doctor, skilled in his profession, of more importance to the world than all the orthodox ministers. Mr. Talmage should remember that for hundreds of years, the church fought, with all its power, the science of medicine. Priests used to cure diseases by selling little pieces of paper covered with cabalistic marks. They filled their treasuries by the sale of holy water. They healed the sick by relics -- the teeth and ribs of saints, the finger-nails of departed worthies, and the hair of glorified virgins. Infidelity said: "send for the doctor." Theology said: "Stick to the priest." Infidelity, -- that is to say, science, -- said; "Vaccinate him." The priest said: "Pray; -- I will sell you a charm." The doctor was regarded as a man who was endeavoring to take from God his means of punishment. He was supposed to spike the artillery of Jehovah, to wet the powder of the Almighty, and to steal the flint from the musket of heavenly retribution. Infidelity has never relied upon essays, it has never relied upon words, it has never relied upon prayers, it has never relied upon angels or gods; it has relied upon the honest efforts of men and women. It has relied upon investigation, observation, experience, and above all, upon human reason. We, in America, know how much prayers are worth. We have lately seen millions of people upon their knees. What was the result? In the olden times, when a plague made its appearance, the people fell upon their knees and died. When pestilence came, they rushed to their cathedrals, they implored their priests -- and died. God had no pity upon his ignorant children. At last, Science came to the rescue. Science, -- not in the attitude of prayer, with closed eyes, but in the attitude of investigation. with open eyes, -- looked for and discovered some of the laws of health. Science found that cleanliness was far better than godliness. It said: Do not spend your time in praying; -- clean your houses, clean your streets, clean yourselves. This pestilence is not a punishment. Health is not simply a favor of the gods. Health depends upon conditions, and when the conditions are violated, disease is inevitable, and no God can save you. Health depends upon your surroundings, and when these are favorable, the roses are in your cheeks. We find in the Old Testament that God gave to Moses a thousand directions for ascertaining the presence of leprosy. Yet it never occurred to this God to tell Moses how to cure the disease. Within the lids of the Old Testament, we have no information upon a subject of such vital importance to mankind. It may, however, be claimed by Mr. Talmage, that this statement is a little too broad, and I will therefore give one recipe that I find in the fourteenth chapter of Leviticus: Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 10 FOURTH INTERVIEW ON TALMAGE "Then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be cleansed two birds alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop; and the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water. As for the living bird, he shall take it, and the cedar wood, and the scarlet, and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water. And he shall sprinkle upon him that is to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose into the open field." Prophets were predicting evil -- filling the country with their wails and cries, and yet it never occurred to them to tell one solitary thing of the slightest importance to mankind. Why did not these inspired men tell us how to cure some of the diseases that have decimated the world? Instead of spending forty days and forty nights with Moses, telling him how to build a large tent, and how to cut the garments of priests, why did God not give him a little useful information in respect to the laws of health? Mr. Talmage must remember that the church has invented no anodynes, no anesthetics, no medicines, and has affected no cures. The doctors have not been inspired. All these useful things men have discovered for themselves, aided by no prophet and by no divine Savior. Just to the extent that man has depended upon the other world, he has failed to make the best of this. Just in the proportion that he has depended on his own efforts, he has advanced. The church has always said: "Consider the lilies of the field; they toil not, neither do they spin." "Take no thought for the morrow." Whereas, the real common sense of this world has said: "No matter whether lilies toil and spin, or not, if you would succeed, you must work; you must take thought for the morrow, you must look beyond the present day, you must provide for your wife and your children." What can I be expected to give as a substitute for perdition? It is enough to show that it does not exist. What does a man want in place of a disease? Health. And what is better calculated to increase the happiness of mankind than to know that the doctrine of eternal pain is infinitely and absurdly false? Take theology from the world, and natural Love: remains, Science is still here, Music will not be lost. the page of History will still be open, the walls of the world will still be adorned with Art, and the niches rich with Sculpture. Take theology from the world, and we all shall have a common hope, -- and the fear of hell will be removed from every human heart. Take theology from the world, and millions of men will be compelled to earn an honest living. Impudence will not tax credulity. The vampire of hypocrisy will not suck the blood of honest toil. Take theology from the world, and the churches can be schools, and the cathedrals universities. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 11 FOURTH INTERVIEW ON TALMAGE Take theology from the world, and the money wasted on superstition will do away with want. Take theology from the world, and every brain will find itself without a chain. There is a vast difference between what is called infidelity and theology. Infidelity is honest. When it reaches the confines of reason, it says: "I know no further." Infidelity does not palm its guess upon an ignorant world as a demonstration. Infidelity proves nothing by slander -- establishes nothing by abuse. Infidelity has nothing to hide. It has no "holy of holies," except: the abode of truth. It has no curtain that the hand of investigation has not the right to draw aside. It lives in the cloudless light, in the very noon, of human eyes. Infidelity has no bible to be blasphemed. It does not cringe before an angry God. Infidelity says to every man: Investigate for yourself. There is no punishment for unbelief. Infidelity asks no protection front legislatures. It wants no man fined because he contradicts its doctrines. Infidelity relies simply upon evidence -- not evidence of the dead, but of the living. Infidelity has no infallible pope. It relies only upon infallible fact. It has no priest except the interpreter of Nature. The universe is its church. Its bible is everything that is true. It implores every man to verify every word for himself, and it implores him to say, if he does not believe it, that he does not. Infidelity does not fear contradiction. It is not afraid of being laughed at. It invites the scrutiny of all doubters, of all unbelievers. It does not rely upon awe, but upon reason. It says to the whole world; It is dangerous NOT to think. It is dangerous NOT to be honest. It is dangerous NOT to investigate. It is dangerous NOT to follow where your reason leads. Infidelity requires every man to judge for himself Infidelity preserves the manhood of man. QUESTION. Mr. Talmage also says that you are trying to put out the light-houses on the coast of the next world; that you are "about to leave everybody in darkness at the narrows of death"? ANSWER. There can be no necessity for these light-houses, unless the God of Mr. Talmage has planted rocks and reefs within that unknown sea. If there is no hell, there is no need of any Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 12 FOURTH INTERVIEW ON TALMAGE lighthouse on the shores of the next world; and only those are interested in keeping up these pretended light-houses who are paid for trimming invisible wicks and supplying the lamps with allegorical oil. Mr. Talmage is one of these light-house keepers, and he knows that if it is ascertained that the coast is not dangerous, the light-house will be abandoned, and the keeper will have to find employment elsewhere. As a matter of fact, every church is a useless light-house. It warns us only against breakers that do not exist. Whenever a mariner tells one of the keepers that there is no danger, then all the keepers combine to destroy the reputation of that mariner. No one has returned from the other world to tell us whether they have light-houses on that shore or not; or whether the light-houses on this shore -- one of which Mr. Talmage is tending -- have ever sent a cheering ray across the sea. Nature has furnished every human being with a light more or less brilliant, more or less powerful. That light is Reason; and he who blows that light out, is in utter darkness. It has been the business of the church for centuries to extinguish the lamp of the mind, and to convince the people that their own reason is utterly unreliable. The church has asked all men to rely only upon the light of the church. Every priest has been not only a light-house but a guide-board. He has threatened eternal damnation to all who travel on some other road. These guide-boards have been toll-gates, and the principal reason why the churches have wanted people to go their road is, that tolls might be collected. They have regarded unbelievers as the owners of turnpikes, to people who go 'cross lots. The toll-gate man always tells you that other roads are dangerous -- filled with quagmires and quicksands. Every church is a kind of insurance society, and proposes, for a small premium, to keep you from eternal fire. Of course, the man who tells you that there is to be no fire, interferes with the business, and is denounced as a malicious meddler and blasphemer. The fires of this world sustain the same relation to insurance companies that the fires of the next do to the churches. Mr. Talmage also insists that I am breaking up the "life- boats." Why should a ship built by infinite wisdom, by an infinite shipbuilder, carry life-boats? The reason we have life-boats now is, that we are not entirely sure of the ship. We know that man has not yet found out how to make a ship that can certainly brave all the dangers of the deep. For this reason we carry life-boats. But infinite wisdom must surely build ships that do not need life- boats. Is there to be a wreck at last? Is God's ship to go down in storm and darkness? Will it be necessary at last to forsake his ship and depend upon life-boats? For my part, I do not wish to be rescued by a lifeboat. When the ship, bearing the whole world, goes down, I am willing to go down with it -- with my wife, with my children, and with those I have loved. I will not slip ashore in an orthodox canoe with somebody else's folks, -- I will stay with my own. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 13 FOURTH INTERVIEW ON TALMAGE What a picture is presented by the church! A few in life's last storm are to be saved; and the saved, when they reach shore, are to look back with joy upon the great ship going down to the eternal depths! This is what I call the unutterable meanness of orthodox Christianity. Mr. Talmage speaks of the "meanness of infidelity." The meanness of orthodox Christianity permits the husband to be saved, and to be ineffably happy, while the wife of his bosom is suffering the tortures of hell. The meanness of orthodox Christianity tells the boy that he can go to heaven and have an eternity of bliss, and that this bliss will not even be clouded by the fact that the mother who bore him writhes in eternal pain. The meanness of orthodox Christianity allows a soul to be so captivated with the companionship of angels as to forget all the old loves and friendships of this world. The meanness of orthodox Christianity, its unspeakable selfishness, allows a soul in heaven to exult in the fact of its own salvation, and at the same time to care nothing for the damnation of all the rest. The orthodox Christian says that if he can only save his little soul, if he can barely squeeze into heaven, if he can only get past Saint Peter's gate, if he can by hook or crook climb up the opposite bank of Jordan, if he can get a harp in his hand, it matters not to him what becomes of brother or sister, father or mother, wife or child. He is willing that they should burn if he can sing. Oh, the unutterable meanness of orthodox Christianity, the infinite heartlessness of the orthodox angels, who with tearless eyes will forever gaze upon the agonies of those who were once blood of their blood and flesh of their flesh! Mr. Talmage describes a picture of the scourging of Christ, painted by Rubens, and he tells us that he was so appalled by this picture -- by the sight of the naked back, swollen and bleeding -- that he could not have lived had he continued to look; yet this same man, who could not bear to gaze upon a painted pain, expects to be perfectly happy in heaven, while countless billions of actual -- not painted -- men, women, and children writhe -- not in a pictured flame, but in the real and quenchless fires of hell. QUESTION. Mr. Talmage also claims that we are indebted to Christianity for schools, colleges, universities, hospitals and asylums? ANSWER. This shows that Mr. Talmage has not read the history of the world. Long before Christianity had a place, there were vast libraries. There were thousands of schools before a Christian existed on the earth. There were hundreds of hospitals before a line of the New Testament was written. Hundreds of years before Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 14 FOURTH INTERVIEW ON TALMAGE Christ, there were hospitals in India, -- not only for men, women and children, but even for beasts. There were hospitals in Egypt long before Moses was born. They knew enough then to cure insanity with music. They surrounded the insane with flowers, and treated them with kindness. The great libraries at Alexandria were not Christian. The most intellectual nation of the Middle Ages was not Christian. While Christians were imprisoning people for saying that the earth is round, the Moors in Spain were teaching geography with globes. They had even calculated the circumference of the earth by the tides of the Red Sea. Where did education come from? For a thousand years Christianity destroyed books and paintings and statues. For a thousand years Christianity was filled with hatred toward every effort of the human mind. We got paper from the Moors. Printing had been known thousands of years before, in China. A few manuscripts, containing a portion of the literature of Greece, a few enriched with the best thoughts of the Roman world, had been preserved from the general wreck and ruin wrought by Christian hate. These became the seeds of intellectual progress. For a thousand years Christianity controlled Europe. The Mohammedans were far in advance of the Christians with hospitals and asylums and institutions of learning. Just in proportion that we have done away with what is known as orthodox Christianity, humanity has taken its place. Humanity has built all the asylums, all the hospitals. Humanity, not Christianity, has done these things. The people of this country are all willing to be taxed that the insane may be cared for, that the sick, the helpless, and the destitute may be provided for, not because they are Christians, but because they are humane; and they are not humane because they are Christians. The colleges of this country have been poisoned by theology, and their usefulness almost destroyed. Just in proportion that they have gotten from ecclesiastical control, they have become a good. That college, today, which has the most religion has the least true learning; and that college which is the nearest free, does the most good. Colleges that pit Moses against modern geology, that undertake to overthrow the Copernican system by appealing to Joshua, have done, and are doing, very little good in this world. Suppose that in the first century Pagans had said to Christians: Where are your hospitals, where are your asylums, where are your works of charity, where are your colleges and universities? The Christians undoubtedly would have replied: We have not been in power. There are but few of us. We have been persecuted to that degree that it has been about as much as we could do to maintain ourselves. Reasonable Pagans would have regarded such an answer as perfectly satisfactory. Yet that question could have been asked of Christianity after it had held the reins of power for a thousand years, and Christians would have been compelled to say: We have no universities, we have no colleges, we have no real asylums. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 15 FOURTH INTERVIEW ON TALMAGE The Christian now asks of the atheist: Where is your asylum, where is your hospital, where is your, university? And the atheist answers: There have been but few atheists. The world is not yet sufficiently advanced to produce them. for hundreds and hundreds of years, the minds of men have been darkened by the superstitions of Christianity. Priests have thundered against human knowledge, have denounced human reason, and have done all within their power to prevent the real progress of mankind. You must also remember that Christianity has made more lunatics than it ever provided asylums for. Christianity has driven more men and women crazy than all other religions combined. Hundreds and thousands and millions have lost their reason in contemplating the monstrous falsehoods of Christianity. Thousands of mothers, thinking of their sons in hell -- thousands of fathers, believing their boys and girls in perdition, have lost their reason. So, let it be distinctly understood, that Christianity has made ten lunatics -- twenty -- one hundred -- where it has provided an asylum for one. Mr. Talmage also speaks of the hospitals. When we take into consideration the wars that have been waged on account of religion, the countless thousands who have been maimed and wounded, through all the years, by wars produced by theology -- then I say that Christianity has not built hospitals enough to take care of her own wounded -- not enough to take care of one in a hundred. Where Christianity has bound up the wounds of one, it has pierced the bodies of a hundred others with sword and spear, with bayonet and ball. Where she has provided one bed in a hospital, she has laid away a hundred bodies in bloody graves. Of course I do not expect the church to do anything but beg. Churches produce nothing. They are like the lilies of the field. "They toil not, neither do they spin, yet Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like most of them." The churches raise no corn nor wheat. They simply collect tithes. They carry the alms' dish. They pass the plate. They take toll. Of course a mendicant is not expected to produce anything. He does not support, -- he is supported. The church does not help. She receives, she devours, she consumes, and she produces only discord. She exchanges mistakes for provisions, faith for food, prayers for pence. The church is a beggar. But we have this consolation: In this age of the world, this beggar is not on horseback, and even the walking is not good. QUESTION. Mr. Talmage says that infidels have done no good? ANSWER. Well, let us see. In the first place, what is an "infidel"? He is simply a man in advance of his time. He is an intellectual pioneer. He is the dawn of a new day. He is a gentleman with an idea of his own, for which he gave no receipt to the church. He is a man who has not been branded as the property of some one else. An "infidel" is one who has made a declaration of independence. In other words, he is a man who has had a doubt. To Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 16 FOURTH INTERVIEW ON TALMAGE have a doubt means that you have thought upon the subject -- that you have investigated the question; and he who investigates any religion will doubt. All the advance that has been made in the religious world has been made by "infidels," by "heretics," by "skeptics," by doubters, -- that is to say, by thoughtful men. The doubt does not come from the ignorant members of your congregations. Heresy is not born of stupidity, -- it is not the child of the brainless. He who is so afraid of hurting the reputation of his father and mother that he refuses to advance, Is not a "heretic." The "heretic" is not true to falsehood. Orthodoxy is. He who stands faithfully by a mistake is "orthodox." He who, discovering that it is a mistake, has the courage to say so, is an "infidel." An infidel is an intellectual discoverer -- one who finds new isles, new continents, in the vast realm of thought. The dwellers on the orthodox shore denounce this brave sailor of the seas as a buccaneer. And yet we are told that the thinkers of new thoughts have never been of value to the world. Voltaire did more for human liberty than all the orthodox ministers living and dead. He broke a thousand times more chains than Luther. Luther simply substituted his chain for that of the Catholics. Voltaire had none. The Encyclopaedists of France did more for liberty than all the writers upon theology. Bruno did more for mankind than millions of "believers." Spinoza contributed more to the growth of the human intellect than all the orthodox theologians. Men have not done good simply because they have believed this or that doctrine. They have done good in the intellectual world as they have thought and secured for others the liberty to think and to express their thoughts. They have done good in the physical world by teaching their fellows how to triumph over the obstructions of nature. Every man who has taught his fellow-man to think, has been a benefactor. Every one who has supplied his fellow-men with facts, and insisted upon their right to think, has been a blessing to his kind. Mr. Talmage, in order to show what Christians have done, points us to Whitefield, Luther, Oberlin, Judson, Martyn, Bishop McIlvaine and Hannah More. I would not for one moment compare George Whitefield with the inventor of movable type, and there is no parallel between Frederick Oberlin and the inventor of paper; not the slightest between Martin Luther and the discoverer of the New World; not the least between Adoniram Judson and the inventor of the reaper, nor between Henry Martyn and the discoverer of photography. Of what use to the world was Bishop McIlvaine, compared with the inventor of needles? Of what use were a hundred such priests compared with the inventor of matches, or even of clothes-pins? Suppose that Hannah More had never lived? about the same number would read her writings now. It is hardly fair to compare her with the inventor of the steamship! The progress of the world -- its present improved condition -- can be accounted for only by the discoveries of genius, only by men who have had the courage to express their honest thoughts. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 17 FOURTH INTERVIEW ON TALMAGE After all, the man who invented the telescope found out more about heaven than the closed eyes of prayer had ever discovered. I feel absolutely certain that the inventor of the steam engine was a greater benefactor to mankind than the writer of the Presbyterian creed. I may be mistaken, but I think that railways have done more to civilize mankind, than any system of theology. I believe that the printing press has done more for the world than the pulpit. It is my opinion that the discoveries of Kepler did a thousand times more to enlarge the minds of men than the prophecies of Daniel. I feel under far greater obligation to Humboldt than to Haggai. The inventor of the plow did more good than the maker of the first rosary -- because, say what you will, plowing is better than praying; we can live by plowing without praying, but we can not live by praying without plowing. So I put my faith in the plow. As Jehovah has ceased to make garments for his children, -- as he has stopped making coats of skins, I have great respect for the inventors of the spinning Jenny and the sewing machine. As no more laws are given from Sinai, I have admiration for the real statesmen. As miracles have ceased, I rely on medicine, and on a reasonable compliance with the conditions of health. I have infinite respect for the inventors, the thinkers, the discoverers, and above all, for the unknown millions who have, without the hope of fame lived and labored for the ones they loved. **** **** Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship. The Bank of Wisdom is a collection of the most thoughtful, scholarly and factual books. These computer books are reprints of suppressed books and will cover American and world history; the Biographies and writings of famous persons, and especially of our nations Founding Fathers. They will include philosophy and religion. all these subjects, and more, will be made available to the public in electronic form, easily copied and distributed, so that America can again become what its Founders intended -- The Free Market-Place of Ideas. 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 18
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Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship.
The Bank of Wisdom is a collection of the most thoughtful, scholarly and factual books. These computer books are reprints of suppressed books and will cover American and world history; the Biographies and writings of famous persons, and especially of our nations Founding Fathers. They will include philosophy and religion. all these subjects, and more, will be made available to the public in electronic form, easily copied and distributed, so that America can again become what its Founders intended --
The Free Market-Place of Ideas.
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,
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