Robert G. Ingersoll

Somebody ought to tell the truth about the Bible. The preachers dare not because they would be driven from their pulpits. Professors in colleges dare not, because they would lose their salaries. Politicians dare not. They would be defeated. Editors dare not. They would lose subscribers. Merchants dare not, because they might lose customers. Men of fashion dare not, fearing that they would lose caste. Even clerks dare not, because they might be discharged. And so I thought I would do it myself. There are many millions of people who believe the Bible to be the inspired word of God – millions who think that this book is staff and guide, counselor and consoler; that it fills the present with peace and the future with hope – millions who believe that it is the fountain of law, justice and mercy, and that to its wise and benign teachings the world is indebted for its liberty, wealth and civilization – millions who imagine that this book is a revelation from the wisdom and love of god to the brain and heart of man – millions who regard this book as a torch that conquers the darkness of death, and pours its radiance on another world – a world without a tear.

They forget its ignorance and savagery, its hatred of liberty, its religious persecution; they remember heaven but they forget the dungeon of eternal pain.They forget that it imprisons the brain and corrupts the heart. They forget that it is the enemy of intellectual freedom.

Ministers wonder how I can be wicked enough to attack the Bible. I will tell them:

This book, the Bible, has persecuted, even unto death, the wisest and the best. This book stayed and stopped the onward movement of the human race. This book poisoned the fountains of learning and misdirected the energies of man.

This book is the enemy of freedom, the support of slavery. This book sowed the seeds of hatred in families and nations, fed the flames of war, and impoverished the world. This book is the breastwork of kings and tyrants – the enslaver of women and children. This book has corrupted parliaments and courts. This book has made colleges and universities the teachers of error and the haters of science.

This book has filled Christendom with hateful, cruel, ignorant and warring sects. This book taught men to kill their fellows for religion's sake. This book founded the Inquisition, invented the instruments of torture, built the dungeons in which the good and loving languished, forged the chains that rusted in their flesh, erected the scaffolds whereon they died. This book piled faggots about the feet of the just. This book drove reason from the minds of millions and filled the asylums with the insane.

This book has caused fathers and mothers to shed the blood of their babes. This book was the auction block on which the slave-mother stood when she was sold from her child. This book filled the sails of the slave-trader and made merchandise of human flesh. This book lighted the fires that burned 'witches' and 'wizards'. This book filled the darkness with ghouls and ghosts, and the bodies of men and women with devils. This book polluted the souls of men with the infamous dogma of eternal pain. This book made credulity the greatest of virtues, and investigation the greatest of crimes. This book filled nations with hermits, monks and nuns – with the pious and the useless. This book placed the ignorant and unclean saint above the philosopher and philanthropist. This book taught man to despise the joys of this life, that he might be happy in another – to waste this world for the sake of the next.

I attack this book because it is the enemy of human liberty – the greatest obstruction across the highway of human progress.

Let me ask the ministers one question:

How can you be wicked enough to defend this book?

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