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The Great Agnostic: Introduction
Act 1. Robert G. Ingersoll, Speaker: Unitarian Club Dinner, New York City, 1882
Act II. Correspondence
Act III. Concluding Statement
robert ingersoll The Great Agnostic Act III Concluding Statement
Robert G. Ingersoll
Concluding Statement

[Note. Material selected from the previous pages will be arranged to meet the interest and time availability of each specific audience. The concluding material takes the audience back to the first reading/speech at the Unitarian Club, N.Y.C., 1882.]

INGERSOLL (Makes concluding statement of the reading):

That is my idea, in a general way, about religion; and I want the imagination to go to work upon it, taking the perfections of one church, of one school, of one system, and putting them together, just as the sculptor makes a great statue by taking the eyes from one, the nose from another, the limbs from another, and so on; just as they make a great painting from a landscape by putting a river in this place, instead of over there, changing the location of a tree and improving on what they call nature — that is to say, simply by adding to, taking from; that is all we can do. But let us go on doing that until there shall be a church in sympathy with the best human heart and in harmony with the best human brain.

And, what is more, let us have that religion for the world we live in. Right here! Let us have that religion until it cannot be said that they who do the most work have the least to eat. Let us have that religion here until hundreds and thousands of women are not compelled to make a living with the needle that has been called "the asp for the breast of the poor," and to live in tenements, in filth, where modesty is impossible.

I say, let us preach that religion here until men will be ashamed to have forty or fifty millions, or any more than they need, while their brethren lack bread — while their sisters die from want. Let us preach that religion here until man will have more ambition to become wise and good than to become rich and powerful. Let us preach that religion here among ourselves until there are no abused and beaten wives. Let us preach that religion until children are no longer afraid of their own parents and until there is no back of a child bearing the scars of a father's lash. Let us preach it, I say, until we understand and know that every man does as he must, and that, if we want better men and women, we must have better conditions.

Let us preach this grand religion until everywhere, the world over, men are just and kind to each other. And then, if there be another world, we shall be prepared for it. And if I come into the presence of an infinite, good, and wise being, he will say, "Well, you did the best you could. You did very well, indeed. There is plenty of work for you to do here. Try and get a little higher than you were before." Let us preach that one drop of restitution is worth an ocean of repentance.

And if there is a life of eternal progress before us, I shall be as glad as any other angel to find that out.

But I will not sacrifice the world I have for one I know not of. I will not live here in fear, when I do not know that that which I fear lives.

I am going to live a perfectly free man. I am going to reap the harvest of my mind, no matter how poor it is, whether it is wheat or corn or worthless weeds. And I am going to scatter it. Some may "fall on stony ground." But I think I have struck good soil to-night.

And so, ladies and gentlemen, I thank you a thousand times for your attention. I beg that you will forgive the time that I have taken, and allow me to say, once more, that this event marks an epoch in Religious Liberty in the United States.


End Act III: Concluding Statement
The Great Agnostic, A staged reading of the ideas of Robert G. Ingersoll in three acts
Arranged by LeRoy D. Owens, 1987

Introduction

Act 1. Robert G. Ingersoll, Speaker: Unitarian Club Dinner, New York City, 1882

Act II. Correspondence

Act III. Concluding Statement
Robert Ingersoll in 3 Acts | Paul Robeson: The Meaning of Freedom | Poems
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