Happy (Belated) Birthday, Robert G. Ingersoll!

Yesterday was Robert G. Ingersoll’s birthday! Ingersoll was a New Atheist before we all started pretending as though being a fiery non-believing orator was something novel.

“Science is the enemy of fear and credulity. It invites investigation, challenges the reason, stimulates inquiry and welcomes the unbeliever.”

I visited the Ingersoll Museum last month in Dresden, NY and was really impressed with the artifacts on display, as well as with the hardiness of the poor woman staffing the front desk in 90F+ heat with no air conditioning. (Hey Ingersoll Museum, get some air conditioning! Those 100-year old documents aren’t going to preserve themselves!)

At the museum, I realized Ingersoll wasn’t just a non-believer – he campaigned for racial equality and women’s rights. Check out what he had to say about birth control:

“All children should be children of love. All that are born should be sincerely welcomed.”

Which I know for this crowd is pretty obvious, but hell, many American Conservatives subscribe to the exact opposite thinking: “Every embryo should be fiercely protected until it develops into a child, at which point the little asshole should fend for himself.”

So yeah, Ingersoll was an atheist, a humanist, and a champion of rational thinking. Go read his essays and get to know an awesome man.

In honor of Ingersoll’s 187th birthday, the Center for Inquiry is giving away a well-designed and most importantly free poster with Ingersoll’s words on them. All you have to do is give them your address and they’ll send you one. Go get yours!

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky

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  1. I’ve been reading his essays for a while now, whenever I need a break from another book, he was definitely one of the “new” atheists, unabashed in his criticisms of religion and society, it’s astonishing to think that many people would come out to hear him speak at that time.

      1. Yeah we’ve cleverly debunked a falshood :) He’s 178. He’s really interesting, I like his “All children should be children of love”.

        Going against strict intolerant cultural norms must have had consequences. So to come to his conclusions and publish them is amazing.

  2. Another of my favorite Ingersoll quotes:

    “Ignorance, poverty and vice must stop populating the world. This cannot be done by moral suasion. This cannot be done by talk or example. This cannot be done by religion or by law, by priest or by hangman. This cannot be done by force, physical or moral.

    To accomplish this there is but one way. Science must make woman the owner, the mistress of herself. Science, the only possible savior of mankind, must put it in the power of woman to decide for herself whether she will or will not become a mother.

    This is the solution of the whole question. This frees woman. The babes that are then born will be welcome. They will be clasped with glad hands to happy breasts. They will fill homes with light and joy.”

  3. “Science, the only possible saviour of mankind”? If that’s not woo I don’t know what is.

    What do you guys think about “twin reduction”?
    Many people who sre pro-abortion seem to have doubts about aborting one baby of a set of twins while leaving the other. That article’s headline has it right: why?
    WWIT? (What would Ingersoll think?)

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