Robert Green Ingersoll

I want to start the year by paying tribute to one great American statesman whose books have been reading in the past month or so

Col. Robert G. Ingersoll

. This gentleman graced the earth between 1833 and 1899 when he was laid to rest. I don’t want to talk about his life, just a review of the books.

He attacked religion with all he had, satire and superior wit. His lectures are a good read for anyone who is interested in free thought, human rights and other social issues of his time that are relevant to us now.

In Ghosts, he sets to show us that, the first explanation man came up with concerning his environment was supernatural. We can’t blame the savage for believing in good and bad ghosts, he didn’t know better. To the savage, good ghosts brought good tidings and bad ghosts brought pestilence and disease. We have moved far maybe we have not from this explanation.

In the mistakes of Moses, he for the sake argument assumes that Moses wrote the first five books of the OT. He then goes out to point out the mistakes Moses made in the name of a deity and he insists a god couldn’t command such atrocities. To top it up, he asks god to write it down in his book he refused to accept that was the work of a deity.

In Why am an Agnostic, he gives reasons why he can’t believe in god. He says in it he studied the other religions and so that christianity didn’t look any different from the other religions except in its insistence on being the only true religion. He says so many men, women and children were killed in service of this god. No god would command such a thing. He says he read Paine, Voltaire, Humboldt and other great men of the 18th and 19th century and their critiques of the bible and of the christian religion and is convinced they were right. That they valued man more than gods.

In the Lectures of R.G Ingersoll vol 1 and 2, we have a collection of lectures he gave on several issues. In the lectures he pays tribute to the great men such as Paine, Voltaire, Humboldt, Hume,  Darwin; he talks about the Declaration of Independence of the US of A,  pays tribute to Abraham Lincoln and responds to his critics from the religious side. He in many instances show that the bible wasn’t believed when it was written and it can’t be believed now. He further shows that truth does not require a miracle only falsehood does.

In About the Holy Bible, he attacks almost every tenet written in that book. He shows us why the book could not have been inspired by any deity. He seeks to say the truth about the bible because the pastors dare not. The professors in colleges dare not, but for him he has no fear so he will speak for them all and he surely does speak for everyone who has a doubt about the bible and for one reason or another can’t say it.

In Men, Women and Gods and other lectures, he visits the themes I have mentioned above and more. He says consistently that we can’t help the gods, we can’t injure them and that it is our duty to help fellow-man. He then talks about the rights of children, the measure of greatness and responds to his critics in the same manner. He attacks the doctrine of atonement.

In Chinese Exclusion he attacks congress for coming up with laws to exclude the Chinese which is a friendly state. I don’t know how far the US of A has come from the fear of the Chinese.


About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

17 thoughts on “Robert Green Ingersoll

  1. john zande says:

    I’ve only read essays on Ingersoll. You’ve now given me direction to delve deeper. Thanks! I am always amazed that the US had such formative minds at the beginning, giants who were determined to establish a secular society. Sad the religious right has remained so strong there.


  2. mixedupmeme says:

    One wonders how he got by with this. Never would today. Ingersoll is a must read. I intend to do more.


    • makagutu says:

      He says he will speak for anyone who fears to be honest about their feelings if it will cost them their job. He had no such worries himself, so speak his mind he did with wit, honesty and combined it with satire. A great read indeed


  3. I love Ingersoll. But thinking about him makes me wonder what the fuck has happened to the US. Sigh 😦


    • makagutu says:

      After reading Mark Twain, Joseph Lewis, Ingersoll and Thomas Paine I ask the same question about the US of A. Is it that the majority do not know that such greats graced that country with their existence?


      • I think so. In my high school (small, rural, poor) we read an expurgated Tom Sawyer and that’s it for Twain. Paine is barely mentioned in history and the others simply didn’t exist. You have to be a Lit major or Am History major to even hear about them. For a country that has this idiotic sense of exceptionalism, a great number of my countrymen seem to be some of the laziest most ignorant people on the planet.


        • makagutu says:

          Nothing need to be added to that discussion of your countrymen. It is sad and appalling. In my history lessons when they taught us about the struggle for independence, the books kinda exaggerated on some of the leaders but then I soon find out they lied.
          The brothers over there ought to be serious, with such history of free thought, they ought to do better!


  4. Daniela says:

    Ingersoll is one of Great Thinkers and well thought of at that. Your article certainly highlights that. And yet, some many years after Ingersoll, social and cultural climate of his country is, to put it mildly, worrisome … very worrisome indeed. There must be some underlying reasons for it all … if we can only discover them.

    Thank you,


  5. I appreciate this more than you know! To my knowledge, I’ve never read anything by Ingersoll but this just sparked an interest. He’s going on my to read list.


  6. […] Here I did write a summary of R.G Ingersoll lectures that I had been reading. For those friends who may not have time to read, here is an audio of his lecture on ghosts. I hope you will like it. […]


  7. Ingersoll sounds really interesting, I’ll definitely look him up


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