Sunday, March 9, 2008

What it means to be free

"When I became convinced that the universe is natural, that all the ghosts and gods are myths, there entered into my brain, into my soul, into every drop of my blood the sense, the feeling, the joy of freedom. The walls of my prison crumbled and fell. The dungeon was flooded with light and all the bolts and bars and manacles became dust. I was no longer a servant, a serf, or a slave. There was for me no master in all the wide world, not even in infinite space. I was free--free to think, to express my thoughts--free to live my own ideal, free to live for myself and those I loved, free to use all my faculties, all my senses, free to spread imagination's wings, free to investigate, to guess and dream and hope, free to judge and determine for myself . . . I was free! I stood erect and fearlessly, joyously faced all worlds."

--Robert G. Ingersoll

An unbeliever should not allow the mind of his child to be deformed, stunted and shriveled by superstition. He should not allow the child's imagination to be polluted. Nothing is more outrageous than to take advantage of the helplessness of childhood to sow in the brain the seeds of falsehoods, to imprison the soul In the dungeon of Fear, to teach dimpled infancy the Infamous dogma of eternal painfilling life with the glow and glare of hell.

In the orthodox Sunday schools, children are taught that it is a duty to believe -- that evidence is not essential -- that faith is independent of facts and that religion is superior to reason. They are taught not to use their natural sense -- not to tell what they really think -- not to entertain a doubt -- not to ask wicked questions, but to accept and believe what their teachers say. In this way the minds of the children are invaded, corrupted and conquered. Would an educated man send his child to a school in which Newton's statement in regard to the attraction of gravitation was denied -- in which the law of falling bodies, as given by Galileo, was ridiculed -- Kepler's three laws declared to be idiotic, and the rotary motion of the earth held to be utterly absurd?

Why then should an intelligent man allow his child to be taught the geology and astronomy of the Bible? Children should he taught to seek for the truth -- to be honest, kind, generous, merciful and just. They should be taught to love liberty and to live to the ideal.

...Children should be taught only what somebody knows. Guesses should not be palmed off on them as demonstrated facts. ... What I insist upon is that children should not be poisoned -- should not be taken advantage of -- that they should be treated fairly, honestly -- that they should be allowed to develop from the inside instead of being crammed from the outside -- that they should be taught to reason, not to believe -- to think, to investigate and to use their senses, their minds.

--Robert G. Ingersoll

From the lecture "The Enemies of Individuality and Mental Freedom."

3 comments:

dcortesi said...

Could you give a citation for this excellent quote? I've searched a couple of online collections of Ingersoll and don't see it.

dcortesi said...

Richard, here's an even better Ingersoll quote:

An unbeliever should not allow the mind of his child to be deformed, stunted and shriveled by superstition. He should not allow the child's imagination to be polluted. Nothing is more outrageous than to take advantage of the helplessness of childhood to sow in the brain the seeds of falsehoods, to imprison the soul In the dungeon of Fear, to teach dimpled infancy the Infamous dogma of eternal painfilling life with the glow and glare of hell.

In the orthodox Sunday schools, children are taught that it is a duty to believe -- that evidence is not essential -- that faith is independent of facts and that religion is superior to reason. They are taught not to use their natural sense -- not to tell what they really think -- not to entertain a doubt -- not to ask wicked questions, but to accept and believe what their teachers say. In this way the minds of the children are invaded, corrupted and conquered. Would an educated man send his child to a school in which Newton's statement in regard to the attraction of gravitation was denied -- in which the law of falling bodies, as given by Galileo, was ridiculed -- Kepler's three laws declared to be idiotic, and the rotary motion of the earth held to be utterly absurd?

Why then should an intelligent man allow his child to be taught the geology and astronomy of the Bible? Children should he taught to seek for the truth -- to be honest, kind, generous, merciful and just. They should be taught to love liberty and to live to the ideal.

...Children should be taught only what somebody knows. Guesses should not be palmed off on them as demonstrated facts. ... What I insist upon is that children should not be poisoned -- should not be taken advantage of -- that they should be treated fairly, honestly -- that they should be allowed to develop from the inside instead of being crammed from the outside -- that they should be taught to reason, not to believe -- to think, to investigate and to use their senses, their minds.

From the lecture "The Enemies of Individuality and Mental Freedom."

Rich said...

Thank you David I will move the quote up into the post.