Every thought leaves its impress. The student of this science
of theology must be taught in youth, — in his mother’s arms. These
lies must be sown and planted in his brain the first of all. He
must be taught to believe, to accept without question. He must be
told that it is wicked to doubt, that it is sinful to inquire —
that Faith is a virtue and unbelief a crime.
In this way his mind is poisoned, paralyzed. On all other
subjects he has liberty — and in all other directions he is urged
to study and think. From his mother’s arms he goes to the Sunday
school. His poor little mind is filled with miracles and wonders.
He is told about a God who made the world and who rewards and
punishes. He is told that this God is the author of the Bible —
that Christ is his son. He is told about original sin and the
atonement, and he believes what he hears. No reasons are given —
no facts — no evidence is presented — nothing but assertion. If
he asks questions, he is silenced by more solemn assertions and
warned against the devices of the evil one. Every Sunday school is
a kind of inquisition where they torture and deform the minds of
children — where they force their souls into Catholic or
Protestant molds — and do all they can to destroy the originality,
the individuality, and the veracity of the soul. In the theological
seminary the destruction is complete.
When the minister leaves the seminary, he is not seeking the
truth. He has it. He has a revelation from God, and he has a creed
in exact accordance with that revelation. His business is to stand
by that revelation and to defend that creed. Arguments against the
revelation and the creed he will not read. he will not hear. All
facts that are against his religion he will deny. It is impossible
for him to be candid. The tremendous “verities” of eternal joy, of
everlasting pain are in his creed, and they result from believing
the false and denying the true.
Investigation is an infinite danger, unbelief is an infinite
offence and deserves and will receive infinite punishment. In the
shadow of this tremendous “fact” his courage dies, his manhood is
lost, and in his fear he cries out that he believes, whether he
does or not.
He says and teaches that credulity is safe and thought
dangerous. Yet he pretends to be a teacher — a leader, one
selected by God to educate his fellow-men.
Robert Green Ingersoll – “Truth” (1897)