"If there is a God who will damn his children forever, I would rather go to hell than to go to heaven and keep the society of such an infamous tyrant. I make my choice now. I despise that doctrine. It has covered the cheeks of this world with tears. It has polluted the hearts of children, and poisoned the imaginations of men. It has been a constant pain, a perpetual terror to every good man and woman and child. It has filled the good with horror and with fear; but it has had no effect upon the infamous and base. It has wrung the hearts of the tender, it has furrowed the cheeks of the good. This doctrine never should be preached again. What right have you, sir, Mr. clergyman, you, minister of the gospel to stand at the portals of the tomb, at the vestibule of eternity, and fill the future with horror and with fear? I do not believe this doctrine, neither do you. If you did, you could not sleep one moment. Any man who believes it, and has within his breast a decent, throbbing heart, will go insane. A man who believes that doctrine and does not go insane has the heart of a snake and the conscience of a hyena."
by:
Robert G. Ingersoll
(1833-1899) American lawyer, Civil War veteran, political leader, orator of United States during the Golden Age of Free Thought, nicknamed "The Great Agnostic"
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Reader comments about this quote:
Wow! You tell 'em, Robert Ingersoll! Right on!
 -- Chicago     
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    Ingersoll was absolutely on target. "Intelligent Design"??? Harrumph...
     -- A.Jurgensen, Stuart, FL     
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    Hey Bob, you read my mind (100 years before I was born) DAMN! wish I could lay claim to this wonderful quote.
     -- mike, australia     
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    you see, there are people who have something between their ears and think for themselves. I'm proud to be a Robert - It's time to throw the spear...
     -- Robert, Sarasota     
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    All they have to sell is a belief system based upon fear, rejecting that for the hope of real understanding through questioning is the true road.
     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US     
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    How better to control a people than to say "If you do this, this, and this...and don't do this, this, and this...you're going to burn in a lake of fire forever. Oh, and by the way, the only way to salvation is through me." I can't beleive more people haven't seen through this already.
     -- Anonymous, Raleigh     
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    Funny you should call this a "Liberty Quote". Can anyone who says "This doctrine never should be preached again." be espousing liberty? He wants to limit free speech!! On the other hand, what about the Creator who says to His creatures "You have the choice to obey me or not, and choices always carry consequences and responsibilies. You have the choice to accept my payment for your disobedience, or reject that payment. You have the choice to speak the truth about me or to speak lies. But choices always carry consequences." Ingersoll has the right to say what he says. I'd fight for the right for him to say it. But he cannot espouse limiting my speech and be called a libertarian.
     -- Brenda, Miami     
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    Have you considered that perhaps it is not God who damns us, but rather we, through our failings? Do you say that, in a court of law, a judge who gives a sentence for a crime committed is unjust? If you will not fault an earthly judge for condemning a man to fulfill a sentence he deserves, how can you fault God for demanding the same kind of justice? I pray you will reconsider your views if you agree with today's "Liberty Quote."
     -- SK, Oklahoma City     
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    My thoughts exactly - I've always felt religions were invented to keep people in line and nothing to do with spirituality.
     -- Annette, Los Angeles     
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    Count me in as a snake and a hyena. Nice quote, though. And he's correct about all religions...except the one I believe in.
     -- Julio, Miami     
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     -- Anonymous      
    Bravo! Say it again, Robert! Kudos for telling it just exactly like it is.
     -- Laura, USA     
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    You know I'd believe him if he actually studied what he was talking about rather than blurting out a bunch a foolish nonsense.
     -- P.M     
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    Right on !! It is logically impossible to have a God which is all-powerful, all-loving and at the same time have evil and suffering abound. The Bible talks about a 'good shepherd'. This 'good shepherd' has his sheep wandering about a field with great pits down which many of the sheep fall to a burning hell. This same 'good shepherd' fails to fence off this pits to save his sheep. Worse still, the 'good shepherd' dug these pits and made the burning hell in the first place. SOME GOOD SHEPHERD I SAY!!! In reality it's just a load of peurile nonsense - fairy stories for the weak of mind, totally insecure and/or schizoids.
     -- David Bowskill, Australia     
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    It seems Mr Ingersoll didn"t understand that if God is God, then He is holy and cannot fellowship with sin. This attribute of holiness is foriegn to men, so many of us will reject God without trying to understand it. We will drag God down to the level of man and then condemn Him for his unfairness. Poor Mr ingersoll !
     -- Mike, KC     
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    I have thoroughly enjoyed this quote and the resulting feedback -- so far, either folks love it or hate it. Ingersoll was a master orator who never 'blurted out' anything. He was the orator's orator and highly respected. He tackles not God, but what man has made up about God -- and in particular the power structures that use 'the word of God' for their own purposes -- usually to get rich. Even among the christian faiths there is disagreement on the issues of damnation and salvation. I commend Ingersoll for taking such a courageous and vocal stand on his own convictions on the hypocrisy of such a dogma. And to those who claim 'God said this, and God said that,' I say, if there is a God, you best stop speaking for him and admit that it is your own personal opinion -- nothing more, and nothing less -- and that opinion I will respect as I hope you will respect others. 'Judge not, lest ye be judged.' The Golden Rule is still golden in my book.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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     -- Dave, Gilroy,CA      
     -- Anonymous      
    Do you have five more stars I could give this quote?
     -- Kenneth Hawthorne, Macon, Ga     
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    It is a touching thought. One also has to take into account that the Christian God created humans "in his image". Does this actually mean God admits to his flaws, especially his own evil side? Maybe this is the reason for thousands of years of neglect. Or maybe this neglect is in our minds. No God deserving this much praise could be so selfish.
     -- Kevin, Ames, IA     
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     -- Heather      
     -- Anonymous      
     -- Anonymous      
    AWESOME!
     -- Mike     
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    All people are skeptics except about their religion. Robert G Ingersoll was a great man, he wrote a lot of the speeches for the presidents at that time, remember that was over a hundred years ago, never could get credit because of his non religion stance, things have not changed that much, the minds are closed. Read Time Traveling with science and the saints, and learn what Religion has done for the world.
     -- sherry, sonora     
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    I love this quote. True human affection is not found at the end of fatalistic threats. Period.
     -- Jeff, Leander, TX     
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    They should run this quote on the TV screen in a continual loop during the bombastic sermons of all the charlatan TV evangelists.
     -- Larry, Ft. Lauderdale Fl.     
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     -- Anonymous      
    I'm not quite sure how to rate this quote or comment on it with stars. There's not much here addressing freedom unless it is the author's ranting against free speech. There is some truth to the pain these dogmas have caused. The doctrine of damnation that "The Great Agnostic" rants about is an extra-Christian dogma outside the Bible's religious doctrines (it does have a lot of political ramifications). I am a Christian that has studied the subject and recognize both the false supposition and the angry response to it. The ignorance is astounding. It would take more history, and original word and etymology definitions than this blog is rightly the forum for to explain. The false claims and, equally meaningless rebuttals to the here referenced hell are almost beyond belief except for their actual existence - as evidenced by the comments here. Here, there is a lot of ignorant swinging at wind mills.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    He sounds like a Universalist who didn't believe in hell. Jesus never condemmed anyone. He only reminded them how they were condemming themselves.
     -- cal, lewisville, tx     
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     -- David, Memphis      
    The irony is that Ingersoll is now burning in Hell, where he opted to go, in the company of all those who have abused religion for their own gains. That's justice! He was a bitter enemy of organized religion (understandable) but made the common mistake of confusing religion with a true relationship of obedience to a loving God.. As a Humanist, he worshipped his own intellect - and could not tolerate those whom he accused of intolerance. A man noted for consistency in his rebellion toward God. No friend of Liberty - rather a libertine.
     -- Daniel, Ft. Worth     
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    Too bad he couldn't understand the unending mercy and compassion of God and where love comes from. In his quote he seems to blame God for what humans have done.
     -- Missy, Lake City     
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    The responses today are encouraging! It seems more and more people are shaking the puerile superstitions of religion formed before man had even created alphabets. And the idea of religion being the source of morality is utter nonsense. Early humans had to learn cooperation and basic behavior in order to live---long before religion was invented.
     -- dick, fort worth     
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    dick, religion was invented before this globe came into existence. Now it is the atheist's statist theocracy that is so harshly abusing We The People, that it is becoming an economic and otherwise living hell on earth. Ingersoll called himself an Agnostic but, that political expediency was shown to be, by his actions and words, just another lie from just another anti-freedom politico. The whole radical religionist thing (atheism to zen, private to theocracy) brings to mind, the actual words of Christ: "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Daniel, how on earth do you know that Ingersoll is "burning in hell". Would a loving God allow someone to burn forever ? He wouldn't be much of a loving God to do that sort of thing. Your comment is nonsense.
     -- jim k, Austin, Tx     
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     -- Rich. Rio Vista, CA      
    Hell can be avoided. Pray for faith in Jesus who paid for all your sins because He loves you. His Law of Love is perfect liberty.
     -- David, Baltimore     
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    All is energy, and we get to choose how we use it. We are all part of the Oneness of God. To focus on hell and abuse and hate is to keep yourself involved in that energy. The principles of God and goodness are there for all to use and value.
     -- Roxy, Marble Falls     
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    I think that Ingersoll has missed the whole point of God and his love of mankind. The Gods created man and gave them free will. Perhaps that was a mistake on His part, but at any rate, we can do what we like. The only problem here is that we have to answer to the consequences of what we do. Those who hate God are terrified of consequences and would rather turn against any thought of a God who would hold them responsible for their actions. The best way to avoid any responsibility is to deny the possibility of a God. WIthout religion, we can do as we please and to some, this is the ideal way to live life. I am disappointed in organized religion, but I am a believer in God and I believe that there is a spiritual world that we are all going to experience some day. But, without a true sense of what is good and what is bad is how evil thrives in this world. There is always going to be good and evil, just like there is always night and day, heads and tails, Yin and Yang. It's up to the individual how they want to live their lives. I have no compassion for the felons who live their lives behind bars because, as far as I'm concerned, that is what they wanted for their lives. The same goes for the homeless living in the woods behind the local Food Lion or Wal-Mart. They don't want the responsibility of parenthood, holding a steady job, paying taxes, or paying a monthly mortgage. They would rather put up with the hardships of living outside the culture than put up with the hardships of living a life considered normal by most people.
     -- GunnyCee, Durham     
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    Excellent quote. How incredible it is to read a comment by someone condemning this quote by saying Ingersoll is now in hell. Some of you people scare me.
     -- Nico, SLC     
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