"If there is a God, it is reasonably certain that he made the world, but it
is by no means certain that he is the author of the Bible. Why then should
we not place greater confidence in Nature than in a book? And even if this
God made not only the world but the book besides, it does not follow that
the book is the best part of creation, and the only part that we will be
eternally punished for denying. It seems to me that it is quite as important
to know something of the solar system, something of the physical history of
this globe, as it is to know the adventures of Jonah or the diet of Ezekiel.
For my part, I would infinitely prefer to know all the results of scientific
investigation, than to be inspired as Moses was. Supposing the Bible to be
true; why is it any worse or more wicked for Freethinkers to deny it, than
for priests to deny the doctrine of evolution, or the dynamic theory of heat?
Why should we be damned for laughing at Samson and his foxes, while others,
holding the Nebular Hypothesis in utter contempt, go straight to heaven? It
seems to me that a belief in the great truths of science are fully as
essential to salvation, as the creed of any church. We are taught that a man
may be perfectly acceptable to God even if he denies the rotundity of the
earth, the Copernican system, the three laws of Kepler, the indestructibility
of matter and the attraction of gravitation. And we are also taught that a
man may be right upon all these questions, and yet, for failing to believe
in the "scheme of salvation," be eternally lost."
[Robert G. Ingersoll, "Some Mistakes of Moses", 1879]