"I am told that I am in danger of hell; that for me to express my honest
convictions is to excite the wrath of God. They inform me that unless
I believe in a certain way, meaning their way, I am in danger of
There was a time when these threats whitened the faces of men with fear.
That time has substantially passed away. For a hundred years hell has been
gradually growing cool, the flames have been slowly dying out, the brimstone
is nearly exhausted, the fires have been burning lower and lower, and the
climate gradually changing. To such an extent has the change already been
effected that if I were going there to-night I would take an overcoat and
a box of matches.
They say that the eternal future of man depends upon his belief. I deny it.
A conclusion honestly arrived at by the brain cannot possibly be a crime; and
the man who says it is, does not think so. The god who punishes it as a crime
is simply an infamous tyrant. As for me, l would a thousand times rather go
to perdition and suffer its torments with the brave, grand thinkers of the
world, than go to heaven and keep the company of a god who would damn his
children for an honest belief."
[Robert G. Ingersoll, "My Reviewers Reviews", lecture in San
Francisco, June 27, 1877, reply to attacks by clergymen for his
lectures "The Liberty of Man, Woman and Child", and "The Ghosts"]