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We were just discussing this, so I figured i'd post it. From Samuel's blog, thanks!


Robert Green Ingersoll
18 page printout.

Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship.
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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


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Through millions of ages, by countless efforts to satisfy his
wants, to gratify his passions, his appetites, man slowly developed
his brain, changed two of his feet into hands and forced into the
darkness of his brain a few gleams and glimmerings of reason. He
was hindered by ignorance, by fear, by mistakes, and he advanced
only as he found the truth -- the absolute facts. Through countless
years he has groped and crawled and struggled and climbed and
stumbled toward the light. He has been hindered and delayed and
deceived by augurs and prophets -- by popes and priests. He has
been betrayed by saints, misled by apostles and Christs, frightened
by devils and ghosts -- enslaved by chiefs and kings -- robbed by
altars and thrones. In the name of education his mind has been
filled with mistakes, with miracles, and lies, with the impossible,
the absurd and infamous. In the name of religion he has been taught
humility and arrogance, love and hatred, forgiveness and revenge.

But the world is changing. We are tired of barbarian bibles
and savage creeds.

Nothing is greater, nothing is of more importance, than to
find amid the errors and darkness of this life, a shining truth.

Truth is the intellectual wealth of the world.

The noblest of occupations is to search for truth.

Truth is the foundation, the superstructure, and the
glittering dome of progress.

Truth is the mother of joy. Truth civilizes, ennobles, and
purifies. The grandest ambition that can enter the soul is to know
the truth.

Truth gives man the greatest power for good. Truth is sword
and shield. It is the sacred light of the soul.

The man who finds a truth lights a torch.

How is Truth to be Known?

By investigation, experiment and reason.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


Every human being should be allowed to investigate to the
extent of his desire -- his ability. The literature of the world
should be open to him -- nothing prohibited, sealed or hidden. No
subject can be too sacred to be understood. Each person should be
allowed to reach his own conclusions and to speak his honest

He who threatens the investigator with punishment here, or
hereafter, is an enemy of the human race. And he who tries to bribe
the investigator with the promise of eternal joy is a traitor to
his fellow-men.

There is no real investigation without freedom -- freedom from
the fear of gods and men.

So, all investigation -- all experiment -- should be pursued
in the light of reason.

Every man should be true to himself -- true to the inward
light. Each man, in the laboratory of his own mind, and for himself
alone, should test the so-called facts -- the theories of all the
world. Truth, in accordance with his reason, should be his guide
and master.

To love the truth, thus perceived, is mental virtue --
intellectual purity. This is true manhood. This is freedom.

To throw away your reason at the command of churches, popes,
parties, kings or gods, is to be a serf, a slave.

It is not simply the right, but it is the duty of every man to
think -- to investigate for himself -- and every man who tries to
prevent this by force or fear, is doing all he can to degrade and
enslave his fellowmen.

Every man should be Mentally honest.

He should preserve as his most precious jewel the perfect
veracity of his soul.

He should examine all questions presented to his mind, without
prejudice, -- unbiased by hatred or love -- by desire or fear. His
object and his only object should be to find the truth. He knows,
if he listens to reason, that truth is not dangerous and that error
is. He should weigh the evidence, the arguments, in honest scales
-- scales that passion or interest cannot change. He should care
nothing for authority -- nothing for names, customs or creeds --
nothing for anything that his reason does not say is true.

Of his world he should be the sovereign, and his soul should
wear the purple. From his dominions should be banished the hosts of
force and fear.

He should be Intellectually Hospitable.

Prejudice, egotism, hatred, contempt, disdain, are the enemies
of truth and progress.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


The real searcher after truth will not receive the old because
it is old, or reject the new because it is new. He will not believe
men because they are dead, or contradict them because they are
alive. With him an utterance is worth the truth, the reason it
contains, without the slightest regard to the author. He may have
been a king or serf -- a philosopher or servant, -- but the
utterance neither gains nor loses in truth or reason. Its value is
absolutely independent of the fame or station of the man who gave
it to the world.

Nothing but falsehood needs the assistance of fame and place,
of robes and maitres, of tiaras and crowns. The wise, the really
honest and intelligent, are not swayed or governed by numbers -- by

They accept what they really believe to be true. They care
nothing for the opinions of ancestors, nothing for creeds,
assertions and theories, unless they satisfy the reason.

In all directions they seek for truth, and when found, accept
it with joy -- accept it in spite of preconceived opinions -- in
spite of prejudice and hatred.

This is the course pursued by wise and honest men, and no
other course is possible for them.

In every department of human endeavor men are seeking for the
truth -- for the facts. The statesman reads the history of the
world, gathers the statistics of all nations to the end that his
country may avoid the mistakes of the past. The geologist
penetrates the rocks in search of facts -- climbs mountains, visits
the extinct craters, traverses islands and continents that he may
know something of the history of the world. He wants the truth.

The chemist, with crucible and retort, with countless
experiments, is trying to find the qualities of substances -- to
ravel what nature has woven.

The great mechanics dwell in the realm of the real. They seek
by natural means to conquer and use the forces of nature. They want
the truth -- the actual facts.

The physicians, the surgeons, rely on observation, experiment
and reason. They become acquainted with the human body -- with
muscle, blood and nerve -- with the wonders of the brain. They want
nothing but the truth.

And so it is with the students of every science. On every hand
they look for facts, and it is of the utmost importance that they
give to the world the facts they find.

Their courage should equal their intelligence. No matter what
the dead have said, or the living believe, they should tell what
they know. They should have intellectual courage.

If it be good for man to find the truth -- good for him to be
intellectually honest and hospitable, then it is good for others to
know the truths thus found.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


Every man should have the courage to give his honest thought.
This makes the finder and publisher of truth a public benefactor.

Those who prevent, or try to prevent, the expression of honest
thought, are the foes of civilization -- the enemies of truth.
Nothing can exceed the egotism and impudence of the man who claims
the right to express his thought and denies the same right to

It will not do to say that certain ideas are sacred, and that
man has not the right to investigate and test these ideas for

Who knows that they are sacred? Can anything be sacrad to us
that we do not know to be true?

For many centuries free speech has been an insult to God.
Nothing has been more blasphemous than the expression of honest
thought. For many ages the lips of the wise were sealed. The
torches that truth had lighted, that courage carried and held
aloft, were extinguished with blood.

Truth has always been in favor of free speech has always asked
to be investigated -- has always longed to be known and understood.
Freedom, discussion, honesty, investigation and courage are the
friends and allies of truth. Truth loves the light and the open
field. It appeals to the senses -- to the judgment, the reason, to
all the higher and nobler faculties and powers of the mind. It
seeks to calm the passions, to destroy prejudice and to increase
the volume and intensity of reason's flame.

It does not ask man to cringe or crawl. It does not desire the
worship of the ignorant or the prayers and praises of the
frightened. It says to every human being, "Think for yourself.
Enjoy the freedom of a god, and have the goodness and the courage
to express your honest thought."

Why should we pursue the truth? and why should we investigate
and reason? and why should we be mentally honest and hospitable?
and why should we express our honest thoughts? To this there is but
one answer: for the benefit of mankind.

The brain must be developed. The world must think. Speech must
be free. The world must learn that credulity is not a virtue and
that no question is settled until reason is fully satisfied.

By these means man will overcome many of the obstructions of
nature. He will cure or avoid many diseases. He will lessen pain.
He will lengthen, ennoble and enrich life. In every direction he
will increase his power. He will satisfy his wants, gratify his
tastes. He will put roof and raiment, food and fuel, home and
happiness within the reach of all.

He will drive want and crime from the world. He will destroy
the serpents of fear, the monsters of superstition. He will become
intelligent and free, honest and serene.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


The monarch of the skies will be dethroned -- the flames of
hell will be extinguished. Pious beggars will become honest and
useful men. Hypocrisy will collect no tolls from fear, lies will
not be regarded as sacred, this life will not be sacrificed for
another, human beings will love each other instead of gods, men
will do right, not for the sake of reward in some other world, but
for the sake of happiness here. Man will find that Nature is the
only revelation, and that he, by his own efforts, must learn to
read the stories told by star and cloud, by rock and soil, by sea
and stream, by rain and fire, by plant and flower, by life in all
its curious forms, and all the things and forces of the world.

When he reads these stories, these records, he will know that
man must rely on himself -- that the supernatural does not exist,
and that man must be the providence of man.

It is impossible to conceive of an argument against the
freedom of thought -- against maintaining your self-respect and
preserving the spotless and stainless veracity of the soul.


All that I have said seems to be true -- almost self-evident,
-- and you may ask who it is that says slavery is better than
liberty. Let me tell you.

All the popes and priests, all the orthodox churches and
clergymen, say that they have a revelation from God.

The Protestants say that it is the duty of every person to
read, to understand, and to believe this revelation -- that a man
should use his reason; but if he honestly concludes that the Bible
is not a revelation from God, and dies with that conclusion in his
mind, he will be tormented forever. They say: -- "Read," and then
add: "Believe, or be damned."

"No matter how unreasonable the Bible may appear to you, you
must believe. No matter how impossible the miracles may seem, you
must believe. No matter how cruel the laws, your heart must approve
them all!"

This is what the church calls the liberty of thought.

We read the Bible under the scowl and threat of God. We read
by the glare of hell. On one side is the devil, with the
instruments of torture in his hands. On the other, God, ready to
launch the infinite curse. And the church says to the readers: "You
are free to decide. God is good, and he gives you the liberty to

The popes and the priests say to the poor people: "You need
not read the Bible. You cannot understand it. That is the reason it
is called a revelation. We will read it for you, and you must
believe what we say. We carry the key of hell. Contradict us and
you will become eternal convicts in the prison of God."

This is the freedom of the Catholic Church.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


And all these priests and clergymen insist that the Bible is
superior to human reason -- that it is the duty of man to accept it
-- to believe it, whether he really thinks it is true or not, and
without the slightest regard to evidence or reason.

It is his duty to cast out from the temple of his soul the
goddess Reason, and bow before the coiled serpent of Fear.

This is what the church calls virtue.

Under these conditions what can thought be worth? The brain,
swept by the sirocco of God's curse, becomes a desert.

But this is not all. To compel man to desert the standard of
Reason, the church does not entirely rely on the threat of eternal
pain to be endured in another world, but holds out the reward of
everlasting joy.

To those who believe, it promises the endless ecstasies of
heaven. If it cannot frighten, it will bribe. It relies on fear and

A religion, to command the respect of intelligent men, should
rest on a foundation of established facts. It should appeal, not to
passion, not to hope and fear, but to the judgment. It should ask
that all the faculties of the mind, all the senses, should assemble
and take counsel together, and that its claims be passed upon and
tested without prejudice, without fear, in the calm of perfect

But the church cries: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and
thou shalt be saved." Without this belief there is no salvation.
Salvation is the reward for belief.

Belief is, and forever must be, the result of evidence. A
promised reward is not evidence. It sheds no intellectual light. It
establishes no fact, answers no objection, and dissipates no doubt.

Is it honest to offer a reward for belief?

The man who gives money to a judge or juror for a decision or
verdict is guilty of a crime. Why? Because he induces the judge,
the juror, to decide, not according to the law, to the facts, the
right, but according to the bribe.

The bribe is not evidence.

So, the promise of Christ to reward those who will believe is
a bribe. It is an attempt to make a promise take the place of
evidence. He who says that he believes, and does this for the sake
of the reward, corrupts his soul.

Suppose I should say that at the center of the earth there is
a diamond one hundred miles in diameter, and that I would give ten
thousand dollars to any man who would believe my statement. Could
such a promise be regarded as evidence?

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


Intelligent people would ask not for rewards, but reasons.
Only hypocrites would ask for the money.

Yet, according to the New Testament, Christ offered a reward
to those who would believe, and this promised reward was to take
the place of evidence. When Christ made this promise he forgot,
ignored, or held in contempt the rectitude of a brave, free and
natural soul.

The declaration that salvation is the reward for belief is
inconsistent with mental freedom, and could have been made by no
man who thought that evidence sustained the slightest relation to

Every sermon in which men have been told that they could save
their souls by believing, has been an injury. Such sermons dull the
moral sense and subvert the true conception of virtue and duty.

The true man, when asked to believe, asks for evidence. The
true man, who asks another to believe, offers evidence.

But this is not all.

In spite of the threat of eternal pain -- of the promise of
everlasting joy, unbelievers increased, and the churches took
another step.

The churches said to the unbelievers, the heretics: "Although
our God will punish you forever in another world -- in his prison
-- the doors of which open only to receive, we, unless you believe,
will torment you now."

And then the members of these churches, led by priests, popes,
and clergymen, sought out their unbelieving neighbors -- chained
them in dungeons, stretched them on racks, crushed their bones, cut
out their tongues, extinguished their eyes, flayed them alive and
consumed their poor bodies in flames.

All this was done because these Christian savages believed in
the dogma of eternal pain. Because they believed that heaven was
the reward for belief. So believing, they were the enemies of free
thought and speech -- they cared nothing for conscience, nothing
for the veracity of a soul, -- nothing for the manhood of a man. In
all ages most priests have been heartless and relentless. They have
calumniated and tortured. In defeat they have crawled and whined.
In victory they have killed. The flower of pity never blossomed in
their hearts and in their brain. Justice never held aloft the
scales. Now they are not as cruel. They have lost their power, but
they are still trying to accomplish the impossible. They fill their
pockets with "fool's gold" and think they are rich. They stuff
their minds with mistakes and think they are wise. They console
themselves with legends and myths, have faith in fiction and
forgery -- give their hearts to ghosts and phantoms and seek the
aid of the non-existent.

They put a monster -- a master -- a tyrant in the sky, and
seek to enslave their fellow-men. They teach the cringing virtues

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


of serfs. They abhor the courage of manly men. They hate the man
who thinks. They long for revenge.

They warm their hands at the imaginary fires of hell.

I show them that hell does not exist and they denounce me for
destroying their consolation.

Horace Greeley, as the story goes, one cold day went into a
country store, took a seat by the stove, unbuttoned his coat and
spread out his hands.

In a few minutes, a little boy who clerked in the store said:
"Mr. Greeley, there ain't no fire in that stove."

"You d--d little rascal," said Greeley, "What did you tell me
for, I was getting real warm."



All the sciences -- except Theology -- are eager for facts --
hungry for the truth. On the brow of a finder of a fact the laurel
is placed.

In a theological seminary, if a professor finds a fact
inconsistent with the creed, he must keep it secret or deny it, or
lose his place. Mental veracity is a crime, cowardice and hypocrisy
are virtues.

A fact, inconsistent with the creed, is denounced as a lie,
and the man who declares or announces the fact is a blasphemer.
Every professor breathes the air of insincerity. Every one is
mentally dishonest. Every one is a pious fraud. Theology is the
only dishonest science -- the only one that is based on belief --
on credulity, -- the only one that abhors investigation, that
despises thought and denounces reason.

All the great theologians in the Catholic Church have
denounced reason as the light furnished by the enemy of mankind --
as the road that leads to perdition. All the great Protestant
theologians, from Luther to the orthodox clergy of our time, have
been the enemies of reason. All orthodox churches of all ages have
been the enemies of science. They attacked the astronomers as
though they were criminals -- the geologists as though they were
assassins. They regarded physicians as the enemies of God -- as men
who were trying to defeat the decrees of Providence. The
biologists, the anthropologists, the archaeologists, the readers of
ancient inscriptions, the delvers in buried cities, were all hated
by the theologians. They were afraid that these men might find
something inconsistent with the Bible.

The theologians attacked those who studied other religions.
They insisted that Christianity was not a growth -- not an
evolution -- but a revelation. They denied that it was in any way
connected with any natural religion.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


The facts now show beyond all doubt that all religions came
from substantially the same source -- but there is not an orthodox
Christian theologian who will admit the facts. He must defend his
creed -- his revelation. He cannot afford to be honest. He was not
educated in an honest school. He was not taught to be honest. He
was taught to believe and to defend his belief, not only against
argument but against facts.

There is not a theologian in the whole world who can produce
the slightest, the least particle of evidence tending to show that
the Bible is the inspired word of God.

Where is the evidence that the book of Ruth was written by an
inspired man? Where is the evidence that God is the author of the
Song of Solomon? Where is the evidence that any human being has
been inspired? Where is the evidence that Christ was and is God?
Where is the evidence that the places called heaven and hell exist?
Where is the evidence that a miracle was ever wrought?

There is none.

Theology is entirely independent of evidence.

Where is the evidence that angels and ghosts -- that devils
and gods exist? Have these beings been seen or touched? Does one of
our senses certify to their existence?

The theologians depend on assertions. They have no evidence.
They claim that their inspired book is superior to reason and
independent of evidence.

They talk about probability -- analogy -- inferences -- but
they present no evidence. They say that they know that Christ
lived, in the same way that they know that Caesar lived. They might
add that they know Moses talked with Jehovah on Sinai the same way
they know that Brigham Young talked with God in Utah. The evidence
in both cases is the same, -- none in either.

How do they prove that Christ rose from the dead? They find
the account in a book. Who wrote the book? They do not know. What
evidence is this? None, unless all things found in books are true.

It is impossible to establish one miracle except by another --
and that would have to be established by another still, and so on
without end. Human testimony is not sufficient to establish a
miracle. Each human being, to be really convinced, must witness the
miracle for himself.

They say that Christianity was established, proven to be true,
by miracles wrought nearly two thousand years ago. Not one of these
miracles can be established except by impudent and ignorant
assertion -- except by poisoning and deforming the minds of the
ignorant and the young. To succeed, the theologians invade the
cradle, the nursery. In the brain of innocence they plant the seeds
of superstition. They pollute the minds and imaginations of
children. They frighten the happy with threats of pain -- they
soothe the wretched with gilded lies.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


This perpetual insincerity stamps itself on the face --
affects every feature. We all know the theological countenance, --
cold, unsympathetic, cruel, lighted with a pious smirk, -- no line
of laughter -- no dimpled mirth -- no touch of humor -- nothing

This face is a rebuke, a reprimand to natural joy. It says to
the happy: "Beware of the dog" -- "Prepare for death." This face,
like the fabled Gorgon, turns cheerfulness to stone. It is a
protest against pleasure -- a warning and a threat.

You see every soul is a sculptor that fashions the features,
and in this way reveals itself.

Every thought leaves its impress. The student of this science
of theology must be taught in youth, -- in his mother's arms. These
lies must be sown and planted in his brain the first of all. He
must be taught to believe, to accept without question. He must be
told that it is wicked to doubt, that it is sinful to inquire --
that Faith is a virtue and unbelief a crime.

In this way his mind is poisoned, paralyzed. On all other
subjects he has liberty -- and in all other directions he is urged
to study and think. From his mother's arms he goes to the Sunday
school. His poor little mind is filled with miracles and wonders.
He is told about a God who made the world and who rewards and
punishes. He is told that this God is the author of the Bible --
that Christ is his son. He is told about original sin and the
atonement, and he believes what he hears. No reasons are given --
no facts -- no evidence is presented -- nothing but assertion. If
he asks questions, he is silenced by more solemn assertions and
warned against the devices of the evil one. Every Sunday school is
a kind of inquisition where they torture and deform the minds of
children -- where they force their souls into Catholic or
Protestant molds -- and do all they can to destroy the originality,
the individuality, and the veracity of the soul. In the theological
seminary the destruction is complete.

When the minister leaves the seminary, he is not seeking the
truth. He has it. He has a revelation from God, and he has a creed
in exact accordance with that revelation. His business is to stand
by that revelation and to defend that creed. Arguments against the
revelation and the creed he will not read. he will not hear. All
facts that are against his religion he will deny. It is impossible
for him to be candid. The tremendous "verities" of eternal joy, of
everlasting pain are in his creed, and they result from believing
the false and denying the true.

Investigation is an infinite danger, unbelief is an infinite
offence and deserves and will receive infinite punishment. In the
shadow of this tremendous "fact" his courage dies, his manhood is
lost, and in his fear he cries out that he believes, whether he
does or not.

He says and teaches that credulity is safe and thought
dangerous. Yet he pretends to be a teacher -- a leader, one
selected by God to educate his fellow-men.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


These orthodox ministers have been the slanderers of the
really great men of our century. They denounced Lyell. the great
geologist, for giving facts to the world. They hated and belittled
Humboldt, one of the greatest and most intellectual of the race.
They ridiculed and derided Darwin, the greatest naturalist, the
keenest observer, the best judge of the value of a fact, the most
wonderful discoverer of truth that the world has produced.

In every orthodox pulpit stood a traducer of the greatest of
scientists -- of one who filled the world with intellectual light.

The church has been the enemy of every science, of every real
thinker, and for many centuries has used her power to prevent
intellectual progress.

Ministers ought to be free. They should be the heralds of the
ever coming day, but they are the bats, the owls that inhabit
ruins, that hate the light. They denounce honest men who express
their thoughts, as blasphemers, and do what they can to close their
mouths. For their Bible they ask the protection of law. They wish
to be shielded from laughter by the Legislature. They ask that the
arguments of their opponents be answered by the courts. This is the
result of a due admixture of cowardice, hypocrisy and malice.

What valuable fact has been proclaimed from an orthodox
pulpit? What ecclesiastical council has added to the intellectual
wealth of the world?

Many centuries ago the church gave to Christendom a code of
laws, stupid, unphilosophic and brutal to the last degree.

The church insists that it has made man merciful and just. Did
it do this by torturing heretics -- by extinguishing their eyes --
by flaying them alive? Did it accomplish this result through the
Inquisition -- by the use of the thumb-screw, the rack and the
fagot? Of what science has the church been the friend and champion?
What orthodox church has opened its doors to a persecuted truth? Of
what use has Christianity been to man?

They tell us that the church has been and is the friend of
education. I deny it. The church founded colleges not to educate
men, but to make proselytes, converts, defenders. This was in
accordance with the instinct of self-preservation. No orthodox
church ever was, or ever will be in favor of real education. A
Catholic is in favor of enough education to make a Catholic out of
a savage, and the Protestant is in favor of enough education to
make a Protestant out of a Catholic, but both are opposed to the
education that makes free and manly men.

So, ministers say that they teach charity. This is natural.
They live on alms. All beggars teach that others should give.

So, they tell us that the church has built hospitals. This is
not true. Men have not built hospitals because they were
Christians, but because they were men. They have not built them for
charity -- but in self-defence. If a man comes to your door with
the smallpox, you cannot let him in, you cannot kill him. As a

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


necessity, you provide a place for him. And you do this to protect
yourself. With this Christianity has had nothing to do.

The church cannot give, because it does not produce. It is
claimed that the church has made men and women forgiving. I admit
that the church has preached forgiveness, but it has never forgiven
an enemy -- never. Against the great and brave thinkers it has
coined and circulated countless lies. Never has the church told, or
tried to tell, the truth about an honest foe.

The church teaches the existence of the supernatural. It
believes in the divine sleight-of-hand -- in the "presto" and "open
sesame" of the Infinite; in some invisible Being who produces
effects without causes and causes without effects; whose caprice
governs the world and who can be persuaded by prayer, softened by
ceremony, and who will, as a reward for faith, save men from the
natural consequences of their actions.

The church denies the eternal, inexorable sequence of events.

What Good has the Church Accomplished?

It claims to have preached peace because its founder said, "I
came not to bring peace but a sword."

It claims to have preserved the family because its founder
offered a hundred-fold here and life everlasting to those who would
desert wife and children.

So, it claims to have taught the brotherhood of man and that
the gospel is for all the world, because Christ said to the woman
of Samaria that he came only to the lost sheep of the house of
Israel, and declared that it was not meet to take the bread of the
children and cast it unto dogs.

In the name of Christ, who threatened eternal revenge. it has
preached forgiveness.

Of what use are the Orthodox Ministers?

They are the enemies of pleasure. They denounce dancing as one
of the deadly sins. They are shocked at the wickedness of the waltz
-- the pollution of the polka. They are the enemies of the theater.
They slander actors and actresses. They hate them because they are
rivals. They are trying to preserve the sacredness of the Sabbath.
It fills them with malice to see the people happy on that day. They
preach against excursions and picnics -- against those who seek the
woods and the sea, the shadows and the waves. They are filled with
holy wrath against bicycles and bloomers. They are opposed to
divorces. They insist that for the glory of God, husbands and wives
who loathe each other should be compelled to live together. They
abhor all works of fiction, and love the Bible. They declare that
the literary master-pieces of the world are unfit to be read. They
think that the people should be satisfied with sermons and poems
about death and hell. They hate art -- abhor the marbles of the
Greeks, and all representations of the human form. They want
nothing painted or sculptured but hands, faces and clothes. Most of
the priests are prudes, and publicly denounce what they secretly

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


admire and enjoy. In the presence of the nude they cover their
faces with their holy hands, but keep their fingers apart. They
pretend to believe in moral suasion, and want everything regulated
by law. If they had the power, they would prohibit everything that
men and women really enjoy. They want libraries, museums and art
galleries closed on the Sabbath. They would abolish the Sunday
paper -- stop the running of cars and all public conveyances on the
holy day, and compel all the people to enjoy sermons, prayers and

These dear ministers, when they have poor congregations,
thunder against trusts, syndicates, and corporations -- against
wealth, fashion and luxury. They tell about Dives and Lazarus,
paint rich men in hell and beggars in heaven. If their
congregations are rich they turn their guns in the other direction.

They have no confidence in education -- in the development of
the brain. They appeal to hopes and fears. They ask no one to think
-- to investigate. They insist that all shall believe. Credulity is
the greatest of virtues, and doubt the deadliest of sins.

These men are the enemies of science -- of intellectual
progress. They ridicule and calumniate the great thinkers. They
deny everything that conflicts with the "sacred Scriptures." They
still believe in the astronomy of Joshua and the geology of Moses.
They believe in the miracles of the past, and deny the
demonstrations of the present. They are the foes of facts -- the
enemies of knowledge. A desire to be happy here, they regard as
wicked and worldly -- but a desire to be happy in another world, as
virtuous and spiritual.

Every orthodox church is founded on mistake and falsehood.
Every good orthodox minister asserts what he does not know, and
denies what he does know.

What are the Orthodox Clergy Doing for the good of Mankind?

Absolutely nothing.

What harm are they doing?

On every hand they sow the seeds of superstition. They
paralyze the minds, and pollute the imaginations of children. They
fill their hearts with fear. By their teachings, thousands become
insane. With them, hypocrisy is respectable and candor infamous.
They enslave the minds of men. Under their teachings men waste and
misdirect their energies, abandon the ends that can be
accomplished, dedicate their lives to the impossible, worship the
unknown, pray to the inconceivable, and become the trembling slaves
of a monstrous myth born of ignorance and fashioned by the
trembling hands of fear.

Superstition is the serpent that crawls and hisses in every
Eden and fastens its poisonous fangs in the hearts of men.

It is the deadliest foe of the human race.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


Superstition is a beggar -- a robber, a tyrant.

Science is a benefactor.

Superstition sheds blood.

Science sheds light.

The dear preachers must give up the account of creation -- the
Garden of Eden, the mud-man, the rib-woman, and the walking,
talking, snake. They must throw away the apple, the fall of man,
the expulsion, and the gate guarded by angels armed with swords.
They must give up the flood and the tower of Babel and the
confusion of tongues. They must give up Abraham and the wrestling
match between Jacob and the Lord. So, the story of Joseph, the
enslavement of the Hebrews by the Egyptians, the story of Moses in
the bulrushes, the burning bush, the turning of sticks into
serpents, of water into blood, the miraculous creation of frogs,
the killing of cattle with hail and changing dust into lice, all
must be given up. The sojourn of forty years in the desert, the
opening of the Red Sea, the clothes and shoes that refused to wear
out, the manna, the quails and the serpents, the water that ran up
hill, the talking of Jehovah with Moses face to face, the giving of
the Ten Commandments, the opening of the earth to swallow the
enemies of Moses -- all must be thrown away.

These good preachers must admit that blowing horns could not
throw down the walls of a city, that it was horrible for Jephthah
to sacrifice his daughter, that the day was not lengthened and the
moon stopped for the sake of Joshua, that the dead Samuel was not
raised by a witch, that a man was not carried to heaven in a
chariot of fire, that the river Jordan was not divided by the
stroke of a cloak, that the bears did not destroy children for
laughing at a prophet, that a wandering soothsayer did not collect
lightnings from heaven to destroy the lives of innocent men, that
he did not cause rain and make iron float, that ravens did not keep
a hotel where preachers got board and lodging free, that the shadow
on a dial was not turned back ten degrees to show that a king was
going to recover from a boil, that Ezekiel was not told by God how
to prepare a dinner, that Jonah did not take cabin passage in a
fish -- and that all the miracles in the old Testament are not
allegories, or poems, but just old-fashioned lies. And the dear
preachers will be compelled to admit that there never was a
miraculous babe without a natural father, that Christ, if he lived,
was a man and nothing more. That he did not cast devils out of
folks -- that he did not cure blindness with spittle and clay, nor
turn water into wine, nor make fishes and loaves of bread out of
nothing -- that he did not know where to catch fishes with money in
their mouths -- that he did not take a walk on the water -- that he
did not at will become invisible -- that he did not pass through
closed doors -- that he did not raise the dead -- that angels never
rolled stones from a sepulchre -- that Christ did not rise from the
dead and did not ascend to heaven.

All these mistakes and illusions and delusions -- all these
miracles and myths must fade from the minds of intelligent men.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


My dear preachers, I beg you to tell the truth. Tell your
congregations that Moses was not the author of the Pentateuch. Tell
them that nobody knows who wrote the five books. Tell them that
Deuteronomy was not written until about six hundred years before
Christ. Tell them that nobody knows who wrote Joshua, or Judges, or
Ruth, Samuel, Kings, or Chronicles, Job, or the Psalms, or the Song
of Solomon. Be honest, tell the truth. Tell them that nobody knows
who wrote Esther -- that Ecclesiastes was written long after Christ
-- that many of the prophecies were written after the events
pretended to be foretold had happened. Tell them that Ezekiel and
Daniel were insane. Tell them that nobody knows who wrote the
gospels, and tell them that no line about Christ written by a
contemporary has been found. Tell them it is all guess -- and may
be, and perhaps. Be honest. Tell the truth, develop your brains,
use all your senses and hold high the torch of Reason.

In a few years the pulpits will be filled with teachers
instead of preachers -- with thoughtful brave, and honest men. The
congregations will be civilized -- intellectually honest and

Now, most of the ministers insist that the old falsehoods
shall be treated with reverence -- that ancient lies with long
white beards -- wrinkled and bald-headed frauds -- round-shouldered
and toothless miracles, and palsied mistakes on crutches, shall be
called allegories, parables, oriental imagery, inspired poems. In
their presence the ungodly should remove their hats. They should
respect the mould and moss of antiquity. They should remember that
these lies, these frauds, the miracles and mistakes, have for
thousands of years ruled, enslaved, and corrupted the human race.

These ministers ought to know that their creeds are based on
imagined facts and demonstrated by assertion.

They ought to know that they have no evidence, -- nothing but
promises and threats. They ought to know that it is impossible to
conceive of force existing without and before matter -- that it is
equally impossible to conceive of matter without force -- that it
is impossible to conceive of the creation or destruction of matter
or force, -- that it is impossible to conceive of infinite
intelligence dwelling from eternity in infinite space, and that it
is impossible to conceive of the creator, or creation, of

The God of the Christian is an enthroned guess -- a perhaps --
an inference.

No man, and no body of men, can answer the questions of the
Whence and Whither. The mystery of existence cannot be explained by
the intellect of man.

Back of life, of existence, we cannot go -- beyond death we
cannot see. All duties, all obligations, all knowledge, all
experience, are for this life, for this world.

We know that men and women and children exist. We know that
happiness, for the most part, depends on conduct.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


We are satisfied that all the gods are phantoms and that the
supernatural does not exist.

We know the difference between hope and knowledge, we hope for
happiness here and we dream of joy hereafter, but we do not know.
We cannot assert, we can only hope. We can have our dream. In the
wide night our star can shine and shed its radiance on the graves
of those we love. We can bend above our pallid dead and say that
beyond this life there are no sighs -- no tears -- no breaking


Let us be honest. Let us preserve the veracity of our souls.
Let education commence in the cradle -- in the lap of the loving
mother. This is the first school. The teacher, the mother, should
be absolutely honest.

The nursery should not be an asylum for lies.

Parents should be modest enough to be truthful -- honest
enough to admit their ignorance. Nothing should be taught as true
that cannot be demonstrated.

Every child should be taught to doubt, to inquire, to demand
reasons. Every soul should defend itself -- should be on its guard
against falsehood, deceit, and mistake, and should beware of all
kinds of confidence men, including those in the pulpit.

Children should be taught to express their doubts -- to demand
reasons. The object of education should be to develop the brain, to
quicken the senses. Every school should be a mental gymnasium. The
child should be equipped for the battle of life. Credulity,
implicit obedience, are the virtues of slaves and the enslaves of
the free. All should be taught that there is nothing too sacred to
be investigated -- too holy to be understood.

Each mind has the right to lift all curtains, withdraw all
veils, scale all walls, explore all recesses, all heights, all
depths for itself, in spite of church or priest, or creed or book.

The great volume of Nature should be open to all. None but the
intelligent and honest can really read this book. Prejudice clouds
and darkens every page. Hypocrisy reads and misquotes, and
credulity accepts the quotation. Superstition cannot read a line or
spell the shortest word. And yet this volume holds all knowledge,
all truth, and is the only source of thought. Mental liberty means
the right of all to read this book. Here the Pope and Peasant are
equal. Each must read for himself -- and each ought honestly and
fearlessly to give to his fellow-men what he learns.

There is no authority in churches or priests -- no authority
in numbers or majorities. The only authority is Nature -- the facts
we know. Facts are the masters, the enemies of the ignorant, the
servants and friends of the intelligent.

Ignorance is the mother of mystery and misery, of superstition
and sorrow, of waste and want.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


Intelligence is the only light. It enables us to keep to the
highway, to avoid the obstructions, and to take advantage of the
forces of nature. It is the only lever capable of raising mankind.
To develop the brain is to civilize the world. Intelligence reeves
the heavens of winged and frightful monsters -- drives ghosts and
leering fiends from the darkness, and floods with light the
dungeons of fear.

All should he taught that there is no evidence of the
existence of the supernatural -- that the man who bows before an
idol of wood or stone is just as foolish as the one who prays to an
imagined God, -- that all worship has for its foundation the same
mistake -- the same ignorance, the same fear -- that it is just as
foolish to believe in a personal god as in a personal devil -- just
as foolish to believe in great ghosts as little ones.

So, all should be taught that the forces, the facts in Nature,
cannot be controlled or changed by prayer or praise, by
supplication, ceremony, or sacrifice; that there is no magic, no
miracle; that force can be overcome only by force, and that the
whole world is natural.

All should be taught that man must protect himself -- that
there is no power superior to Nature that cares for man -- that
Nature has neither pity nor hatred -- that her forces act without
the slightest regard for man -- that she produces without intention
and destroys without regret.

All should be taught that usefulness is the bud and flower and
fruit of real religion. The popes and cardinals, the bishops,
priests and parsons are all useless. They produce nothing. They
live on the labor of others. They are parasites that feed on the
frightened. They are vampires that suck the blood of honest toil.
Every church is an organized beggar. Every one lives on alms -- on
alms collected by force and fear. Every orthodox church promises
heaven and threatens hell, and these promises and threats are made
for the sake of alms, for revenue. Every church cries: "Believe and

A new era is dawning on the world. We are beginning to believe
in the religion of usefulness.

The men who felled the forests, cultivated the earth, spanned
the rivers with bridges of steel, built the railways and canals,
the great ships, invented the locomotives and engines, supplying
the countless wants of man: the men who invented the telegraphs and
cables, and freighted the electric spark with thought and love; the
men who invented the looms and spindles that clothe the world, the
inventors of printing and the great presses that fill the earth
with poetry, fiction and fact, that save and keep all knowledge for
the children yet to be; the inventors of all the wonderful machines
that deftly mold from wood and steel the things we use; the men who
have explored the heavens and traced the orbits of the stars -- who
have read the story of the world in mountain range and billowed
sea; the men who have lengthened life and conquered pain; the great
philosophers and naturalists who have filled the world with light;
the great poets whose thoughts have charmed the souls, the great

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


painters and sculptors who have made the canvas speak, the marble
live; the great orators who have swayed the world, the composers
who have given their souls to sound, the captains of industry, the
producers, the soldiers who have battled for the right, the vast
host of useful men -- these are our Christs, our apostles and our
saints. The triumphs of science are our miracles. The books filled
with the facts of Nature are our sacred scriptures, and the force
that is in every atom and in every star -- in everything that lives
and grows and thinks, that hopes and suffers, is the only possible

The absolute we cannot know -- beyond the horizon of the
Natural we cannot go. All our duties are within our reach -- all
our obligations must be discharged here, in this world. Let us love
and labor. Let us wait and work. Let us cultivate courage and
cheerfulness -- open our hearts to the good -- our minds to the
true. Let us live free lives. Let us hope that the future will
bring peace and joy to all the children of men, and above all, let
us preserve the veracity of our souls.

"Character is higher than intellect... A great soul will be strong to live, as well as to think."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Samuel's picture
Posts: 121
Joined: 2006-02-18
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I love that speech.
It seems rather redundand and long, but if you read it straight through you won't regret it! It all just poetically comes together at the end, every thing he said beautifuly ties in....

And I especially love the last couple paragraphs... If that doesn't make you cry, then I have a moral imperitive to ask; "What the hell is wrong with you, man?" It should at least make you cry on the inside.

Oh, and on my blog, I went thru and deleted all the page-separating "Band of Wisdom" things and only kept it at the beginning.

Posts: 187
Joined: 2006-08-01
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Yeah, it is redundant. I posted like a fourth of it on my blog, that's all I really needed. But it is very good. That man's a genius.

Wilson: "We were afraid that if you found out you solved a case with absolutely no medical evidence you'd think you were God." House: "God doesn't limp."