THE GODS (15)
by: Robert G. Ingersoll
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Although many eminent men have endeavored to harmonize necessity and free will, the existence of evil, and the infinite power and goodness of God, they have succeeded only in producing learned and ingenious failures. Immense efforts have been made to reconcile ideas utterly inconsistent with the facts by which we are surrounded, and all persons who have failed to perceive the pretended reconciliation, have been denounced as infidels, atheists and scowlers. The whole power of the church has been brought to bear against philosophers and scientists in order to compel a denial of the authority of demonstration, and to induce some Judas to betray Reason, one of the saviors of mankind.
During that frightful period known as the “ Dark Ages,” Faith reigned, with scarcely a rebellious subject. Her temples were “ carpeted with knees,” and the wealth of nations adorned her countless shrines. The great painters prostituted their genius to immortalize her vagaries, while the poets enshrined them in song. At her bidding, man covered the earth with blood. The scales of Justice were turned with her gold, and for her use were invented all the cunning instruments of pain. She built cathedrals for God, and dungeons for men, She peopled the clouds with angels and the earth with slaves. For centuries the world was retracing its steps going steadily back toward barbaric night! A few infidels a few heretics cried, “ Halt! ” to the great rabble of ignorant devotion, and made it possible for the genius of the nineteenth century to revolutionize the cruel creeds and superstitions of mankind.
The thoughts of man, in order to be of any real worth must be free. Under the influence of fear the brain is paralyzed, and instead of bravely solving a problem for itself, tremblingly adopts the solution of another. As long as a majority of men will cringe to the very earth before some petty prince or king, what must be the infinite abjectness of their little souls in the presence of their supposed creator and God? Under such circumstances, what can their thoughts be worth?
The originality of repetition, and the mental vigor of acquiescence, are all that we have any right to expect from the Christian world. As long as every question is answered by the word “ God,” scientific inquiry is simply impossible.
As fast as phenomena are satisfactorily explained the domain of the power, supposed to be superior to nature must decrease, while the horizon of the known must as constantly continue to enlarge,
It is no longer satisfactory to account for the fall and rise of nations by saying, “ It is the will of God.” Such an explanation puts ignorance and education upon an exact equality, and does away with the idea of really accounting for anything whatever.
Will the religionist pretend that the real end of science is to ascertain how and why God acts? Science, from such a standpoint would consist in investigating the law of arbitrary action, and in a grand endeavor to ascertain the rules necessarily obeyed by infinite caprice.