Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A 137 year old book! :D

        I’m so excited about this. I was wandering around a used bookstore because I was an hour early for a bus and I found The Gods and Other Lectures by Robert G. Ingersoll, published in 1874. I’m pretty sure it’s a first edition. People keep asking me if I think it’s worth any money but I really don’t care all that much. It’s an awesome book. I haven’t read much of it so far but if you know anything about Robert Ingersoll you know he was quite a controversial person back in his time. He was one of the main personas during the “Golden Age of Freethought” and promoted agnosticism. They wanted him to run for political office but only on the condition that he conceal his agnosticism which he refused to do on the basis that he thought concealing information from the public was immoral. Considering now, at least in American politics, a person who was openly atheist or agnostic would never be able to run it prevents those who are best suited (statistically more intelligent) and honest from leading the most powerful country in the world. Even though religion does not play nearly as important role in public and political spheres here in Canada, I don’t think I have ever heard of a political leader announcing his atheism.
Some quotes:
  • “Give me the storm and tempest of thought and action, rather than the dead calm of ignorance and faith. Banish me from Eden when you will; but first let me eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge.”
  • “The notion that faith in Christ is to be rewarded by an eternity of bliss, while a dependence upon reason, observation, and experience merits everlasting pain, is too absurd for refutation, and can be relieved only by that unhappy mixture of insanity and ignorance, called ‘faith’.”
  • All that is necessary, as it seems to me, to convince any reasonable person that the bible is simply and purely of human invention—of barbarian invention—is to read it. Read it as you would any other book; think of it as you would of any other; get the bandage of reverence from your eyes; drive from your heart the phantom of fear; push from the throne of your brain the cowled form of superstition- then read the holy bible, and you will be amazed that you ever, for one moment, supposed a being of infinite wisdom, goodness and purity, to be the author of such ignorance and of such atrocity”.
  • “These devils generally sympathized with man. There is in regard to them a most wonderful fact: In nearly all the theologies, mythologies and religions, the devils have been much more humane and merciful than the gods.”
I could go on forever. None of this is new for me just simple common sense but it’s amazing to think of how revolutionary this must have been in 1874, hell many people today would be horrified by the ridicule with which he treats their most sacred ideas. But as he says “the instant we admit that a book is too sacred to be doubted, or even reasoned about, we are mental serfs”.

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