Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Celebrating Agnosticism - Ingersoll Day

I love stumbling on these treasure troves of information! This Wacky Holidays calendar has positively revolutionized my thinking in some ways. Take yesterday for example: I had no idea how wonderfully complex and sophisticated the music of Duran Duran is until I sat down with great deliberation to listen to their catalog. Before that they were only an 80s pop band to me!

Today's post will no doubt strike another chord of emotional reaction with my readers; if my views on Hiroshima made enemies with the military men and women, then today's post may very well rankle the chains of my religious friends. Of course, I know I'm posting these touchy subject matters by choice, and there are certainly other things I could write about. However I choose to write about the things that interest me. I also enjoy learning new things. I'm very open-minded. That's what today's post is about.

I almost began this post by saying, "Well there's nothing on the calendar to celebrate today, so let's look ahead to tomorrow ... " but then I was only going off the agenda emailed to me from my Google calendar. That only reflects what I manually entered into that calendar, not the websites I culled the information from. So just to be sure I went to the source and sure enough there are actually two items on Brownielocks August Holidays calendar for today (not counting the weekly and monthly observances of course): Ingersoll Day and President's (or Presidential) Joke Day.

The latter really didn't grab me, so out of sheer obligation to my readers I looked up Ingersoll Day, and herein lies my joy in preparing these posts: I learned something I wouldn't have known otherwise if I hadn't bothered to look it up. I guess that's the thing about being raised by a pair of English teachers - one learns these disciplines early in life, the discipline to look up something one doesn't know about.

Robert Green Ingersoll lived in the late 19th century, from 1833-1899. Today would have been his birthday, which is a good choice for a remembrance. The website Secular Seasons calls him "the most successful orator" of his time. Dubbed the "Great Agnostic" he held lectures that "attracted huge crowds", where he criticized religion and promoted freethought.

Before my devoutly Christian friends turn me off completely here, you better listen to this: as a leading political figure he also campaigned against slavery and for the rights of women and minorities. That sounds so opposite of what you were expecting, isn't it? I wasn't expecting it, but then I really don't know anything about agnosticism ... that's why I read the article in the hopes of learning something. Luckily, this has turned out to be a great learning experience, because it sounds like this guy has something of great value to share with humanity. This guy is not afraid to speak the truth. And as a Christian, I don't feel threatened by it at all, because he saw the exact same things I see and rally against myself.
" We have already compared the benefits of theology and science. When the theologian governed the world, it was covered with huts and hovels for the many, palaces and cathedrals for the few. To nearly all the children of men, reading and writing were unknown arts. The poor were clad in rags and skins -- they devoured crusts, and gnawed bones. The day of Science dawned, and the luxuries of a century ago are the necessities of to-day. Men in the middle ranks of life have more of the conveniences and elegancies than the princes and kings of the theological times. But above and over all this, is the development of mind. There is more of value in the brain of an average man of today -- of a master-mechanic, of a chemist, of a naturalist, of an inventor, than there was in the brain of the world four hundred years ago. These blessings did not fall from the skies. These benefits did not drop from the outstretched hands of priests. They were not found in cathedrals or behind altars -- neither were they searched for with holy candles. They were not discovered by the closed eyes of prayer, nor did they come in answer to superstitious supplication. They are the children of freedom, the gifts of reason, observation and experience -- and for them all, man is indebted to man. "
~ Robert Green Ingersoll, God in the Constitution

I can't honestly say that I promote an agnostic lifestyle, but I do agree with this man's views as set forth above. Especially in this day and age of a Democrat president who wears his Christian beliefs like a badge of honor, while endeavouring to find the solution to this country's economic woes ... we all really need to reflect upon Mr. Ingersoll's sentiments more than ever, if for no other reason than to hold our government leaders accountable, but also to hold ourselves accountable as well.

I say this as a Christian. I will always be Christian - I totally believe in God, and I believe Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. What greater gift could I offer up to the God I believe in than to use the brain he gave me to make this world a better place for all? That, I think, is the essence of Robert Ingersoll's message in the quote above.

More resources on Robert Ingersoll:

Secular Seasons
The Complete Works of Robert Ingersoll

Robert Ingersoll's written works (a mere sampling) [I have read none of these, I am merely providing these as a resource for you dear reader to check out on your own, and draw your own conclusions]:

About Farming in Illinois
What Would You Substitute for the Bible as a Moral Guide?
God in the Constitution
Is Corporal Punishment Degrading?
An Interview on Chief Justice Comegys
Myth and Miracle

Tomorrow -

  • IBM PC Day
  • International Youth Day
  • Sewing Machine Day
  • Vinyl Record Day ... just in time for Elvis week. Coincidence???

1 comment:

  1. And on that note...

    Dunt dun duuh DAAAAHHHH!

    !!!!!!!!!AN ATHEIST SHIRT STORE!!!!!!!!!

    Aristotle's Muse

    This is my favorite atheist store. Maybe wearing an atheist T-shirt won't change the world, but enough of them just might.