Robert Green Ingersoll (Aug. 11, 1833 – July 21, 1899)

Reason, Observation and Experience – the Holy Trinity of Science – have taught us that happiness is the only good; that the time to be happy is now, and the way to be happy is to make others so. This is enough for us. In this belief we are content to live and die. If by any possibility the existence of a power superior to, and independent of, nature shall be demonstrated, there will then be time enough to kneel. Until then, let us stand erect.

Wikiquote – The Gods and Other Lectures (1879)

A hat/tip is due to W.F. Strong and the Texas Standard for bringing the name Robert Green Ingersoll back to mind with this piece about Redwater, Texas. I first learned of Ingersoll by listening to the weekly broadcast of the FFrF way back when. If you haven’t heard an FFrF broadcast, then you probably haven’t heard of Robert Green Ingersoll before. Which is why he is billed these days as the most famous American you’ve never heard of.

I found it amusing that Mr. Strong felt he had to point out that Ingersoll was not an atheist but an agnostic. As a freethinker, I understand the finer points of the difference, probably better than W.F. Strong does. There is little doubt that Ingersoll had no use for religion as an institution, as this last quote should illustrate.

While utterly discarding all creeds, and denying the truth of all religions, there is neither in my heart nor upon my lips a sneer for the hopeful, loving and tender souls who believe that from all this discord will result a perfect harmony; that every evil will in some mysterious way become a good, and that above and over all there is a being who, in some way, will reclaim and glorify every one of the children of men; but for those who heartlessly try to prove that salvation is almost impossible; that damnation is almost certain; that the highway of the universe leads to hell; who fill life with fear and death with horror; who curse the cradle and mock the tomb, it is impossible to entertain other than feelings of pity, contempt and scorn.

Wikiquote – The Gods and Other Lectures (1879)

FFrF Radio: Stolen Innocence; Archives: Barbara G. Walker & Julia Sweeney

Podcast Link.
June 21, 2008Guests: Elissa Wall and Sarah Braasch

California Gay Marriage news leads off the episode.

Sarah Braasch is FFrF’s new intern. She is researching prayer in the Wisconson state assembly, which is highly regulated. It’s no surprise, of course, that the representatives have been pushing the envelope of what a nonsectarian, nondenominational opening prayer is.

Elissa Wall’s story is a prime example of my oft voiced opinion that the other shoe is yet to drop when it comes to the State of Texas v. FLDS. She provides a very telling look into what the FLDS is really all about.

[Previous posts on the FLDS. The emotional reaction that I have to discussions of women’s roles within these ridiculous fundamentalist churches is almost beyond description. It always reminds me of a story idea that came to me one night. What would a society look like if women were permitted to kill any man, for any reason, from the time of birth. Maybe the average couch dwelling male would listen when the woman spoke, then. Don’t shoot the messenger, it’s just an idea]

Stolen Innocence looks like a good book (Video) I don’t think I’ll be able to read it.


2007 Archive episode.
June 23, 2007Special Guest: Author Barbara G. Walker

Theocracy Alert details yet another example of misapplication of funds within Bush’s ill-advised faith-based failure.

Barbara G. Walker‘s interview wasn’t particularly riveting (she’s no Julia Sweeney) Still, it’s very informative on the subjects that she’s knowledgeable about. The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets sounds like a book I need to put in the library.

Pagan pulpit rounds out the episode with a sermon on the christian trinity. Apparently the passage on the trinity does not appear in the ‘original’ I John 5:7, it was inserted by catholic priests in ages past (current translations do not include the passage) even if it was found in the Bible, how would you make sense of it?

So, it is declared that the Father is God, and the Son God and the Holy Ghost God, and that these three Gods make one God.

According to the celestial multiplication table, once one is three, and three times one is one, and according to heavenly subtraction if we take two from three, three are left. The addition is equally peculiar, if we add two to one we have but one. Each one is equal to himself and the other two. Nothing ever was, nothing ever can be more perfectly idiotic and absurd than the dogma of the Trinity.

Robert Green Ingersoll – The Foundations of Faith


2006 Archive episode.
June 24, 2006“Letting Go of God”: Julia Sweeney

Julia Sweeney has been mentioned and been a guest on Freethought Radio more times than any other person. I caught “God Said Ha!” on one of the movie channels a few months ago. I set the DVR to record the program based on mentions it received on Freethought.

I didn’t find it that funny (interesting, just not LOL funny) nor did I find Pat that interesting on SNL (truthfully, I haven’t watched SNL since Aykroyd and Belushi left the show. However, the asexual characters you meet inevitably being referred to as Pat proves that her characterizations have progressed to myth status) I had already written a blurb about the impending movie back in November; So when I saw that it was once again time bring up the subject of Letting go of God, because it was time to review the older Julia Sweeney interview, I balked.

I really didn’t want to trash something I hadn’t seen or heard, but I couldn’t recommend something if I hadn’t experienced it either. So, I bit the bullet and wandered over to Audible for a download of the show (brought to my attention by another podcast I listen to) and after fighting with the DRM restrictions for a few minutes (the subject of several rants, one of the reasons I don’t generally use download sites) I finally got the file running. I’m actually glad I took the time to listen to Letting go of God before writing this, because it is a very funny audio program. Heres a video snippet from TED talks:

Looking forward to the movie now.

Oh, and as far as this episode of Freethought goes, all of the interviews with Julia are entertaining (that’s why I was willing to risk $11 and change on a download I might not have been able to use) this one is no exception.

FFrF Radio: Michael Shermer; Archives: Catherine Fahringer & Susan Jacoby

Podcast Link.
June 14, 2008Guests: Michael Shermer and Mike Smith

Mike Smith sponsored a billboard in downtown Denver. Hats off to Mike. Now we need a sponsor for I-35 in Austin. Any takers?

Confession. I had nearly given up on reviewing Freethought Radio, until I heard this episode. Michael Shermer’s book Why Darwin Matters was a CATO event which I reference whenever I get into an argument with ID supporters (there’s also the Mind of the Market event) but really, I was just impressed that Dan and Laurie reached outside of their comfortable progressive group and found someone new to talk to.

“Science progresses funeral by funeral” (anonymous observation)

The subject of Expelled was a prominent discussion point in the interview. My thoughts on that worthless film are here. Micheal Shermer’s review is here.

Another good interview.


2007 Archive episode.
June 16, 2007“Lone Star Atheism”

The episode opened with discussion of the ARIS poll and Harris Polls that show a marked decline in religious belief and attendance. I personally like the interactive features at The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. No matter how you slice it, though, there’s no arguing that the US is becoming less concerned with religion.

Which probably explains why the Southern Baptists featured in Theocracy Alert sound so concerned.

As usual, the Daily Show clip:

I actually listened to this episode a year ago because Catherine Fahringer is from Texas and I wanted to hear the views of a fellow Texan. I was surprised to hear that there was a chapter of FFrF in Texas. They certainly don’t have a web presence.

The story of the German freethinkers slaughtered by Confederate forces was news to this Texan; or that there was a memorial to them in Comfort, Texas. (separate from the Nueces Massacre “Treue der Union” Monument) Time for a freethought pilgrimage?

Dan’s Lucifer’s Lament closes out the episode.


2006 Archive episode.
June 17, 2006Secular Nation: Susan Jacoby

Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism

Paraphrasing Susan Jacoby; It really doesn’t matter what the beliefs of the founding fathers were, what matters was what they put in the founding documents. There is no god in the Constitution; and the ‘creator’ referenced in the Declaration is nothing more than a nod to nature as the creator.

Those of us who have been wandering around in Libertarian circles for the lat 15 years are reasonably familiar with these facts.

Now, the story of Robert Green Ingersoll (the second half of the interview) is something you wouldn’t know about unless you have been looking into the history of disbelief. You certainly wouldn’t have stumbled across his name in school in modern day America, the devout have exorcised him from the history books.

The Da Vinci Code LA Times article

The final segment gets into the part of the interview that I find most interesting. Why are you a non-believer? The varying stories of how and why a person comes to “lose faith in faith” just seem to hold my attention.

The episode finishes up with a rendition of Die Gedanken sind frei.

FFrF Radio: Child Homicide; Archive: Secular Lobby

Podcast Link.
April 5, 2008When Prayer Fails: Child Homicide via Prayer

One year later, same subject, and Dan opens with the same joke. Ouch, Dan.

Theocracy Alert discusses Sen. Grassley’s inquiry into prosperity preachers and other subjects. The movie Fitna (sent to me by a friend a while back) warranted a discussion. Fitna could just as easily be about any of the three Abrahamic religions, at some period in their shared history. Religion, faith and willful ignorance in general is the problem, not just one specific religion.

Pagan Pulpit speaks to the subject of the episode, faith healing. Dan quotes James 5:13-15, and rightly points out that all prayers are supposed to be answered (several preachers have told me over the years “But sometimes the answer is no”; that’s not what the bible says) which calls the entirety of faith into question.

Shawn Francis Peters was the guest. His book When Prayer Fails: Faith Healing, Children, and the Law is his third book on the subject of religion and law. This interview delves more deeply into the issue of preventable diseases and the specific nature of the laws involved than last years interview with Rita Swan.

The activity of some of the parents involved really begs the question of why the legal obligation for children’s health care isn’t more stringently enforced in cases of religiously based neglect, than in other cases. The failure of god to deliver a miracle when it is prayed for can only be seen as a failure on the part of those doing the praying, if prayer is truly effective. A direct indictment if there ever was one.


“The hands that help are better far than the lips that pray” –Robert Green Ingersol

2007 Archive episode.
April 7, 2007Secular Lobby in Congress

Lori Lipman Brown was the guest. She represents a resource that many people might find useful, The Secular Coalition for America, a lobbying group in Washington DC that does pretty much what the name says, advances the secular nature of our government.

She discusses several issues that she was working on at the time; combating faith based initiatives, the Christian embassy at the Pentagon, etc. All disturbing examples of christians ignoring the Constitution and establishing religion within government.

Dan’s Pagan Pulpit challenges christians to document what happened on Easter Sunday, referencing their own holy works. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, as well as Acts and 1st Corinthians. As Dan notes, Thomas Paine attempts to do this in The Age of Reason, and he was unable. I had not realized that the gospels varied this much myself, on the holiest of holy christian holidays.

FFrF Radio: A Freethought Solstice holiday

Podcast link.

Freethought in the movies this week. Several good movies mentioned, including the aforementioned Golden Compass (which I enjoyed greatly, and I hope to read the book soon) O Brother Where Art Thou, Chocolat, Contact and Blade Runner all favorites of mine. There were also I few I hadn’t seen, such as The Contender, A Raisin in the Sun, Elmer Gantry, Inherit the Wind and several foreign language films whose titles I didn’t catch. More films are listed here.

“Fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy, and needs feeding.”

Clarence Darrow

I noticed that the hosts and guests to the show spend a lot of time correcting the usage of the word Christmas to the phrase “Solstice Holiday”. The word Christmas doesn’t have anything to do with the word christian as it is used in the US; and I’ve pointed this out before. I’m not giving up the word Christmas just because Santa is my solstice holiday icon; and I’m not going to change the date of Christmas to coincide with the actual solstice, so I don’t see the point of renaming it Solstice Holiday. It’s Christmas, and It’s going to stay Christmas, a secularized solstice holiday that features a jolly red elf. Get over it.

Although I did like the point (and have made this point myself before) that the Puritans who settled North America left England because they objected to Roman Catholic excess; namely the celebration of holidays not found in scripture. Like Christmas.

So much for the christian reason for the season.



2006 Archive episode.

December 23, 2006 – Confessions of a Lonely AtheistThe acknowledgment of Robert Ingersoll in the Freethinkers almanac segment reminds me of the so far unmentioned part of the show that I actually look forward to on each podcast. You actually don’t have to listen to the shows to get this information, you can find it here. The guest this week was Natalie Angier, discussing her article Confessions of a Lonely Atheist, and the advancing numbers of self acknowledging Atheists in the US these days. She also discusses raising a child in this religious fevered nation (no place like Texas for that, so I can identify) and what that entails.

Also the debut of the song Intelligent? Design? is in this episode.

Intelligent? Design?
by Phillip Appleman
Set to music by Dan Barker

Your eyes have seen a blurry scene
that’s only known to man.
You’re optic nerves are backward
and have been since time began.
That’s what the preachers tell you
is god’s very special plan.
Intelligent design!

Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!
The great designer knows what’s due ya.
Nothing else can stick it to ya like
Intelligent Design!

You wish a guy’s urethra did
The jobs that were proposed:
Both lover’s clout and waterspout
Is what you had supposed.
Alas, the Great Designer squeezed
A prostate ’round your hose:
Intelligent Design!

Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!
Nowhere does the Bible clue ya
That your glands would soon subdue ya:
Intelligent Design!

Your tummies sick, your heart goes tick,
your hips are giving in.
childbirth is a horror
’cause your pelvis is to thin.
when your appendix ruptures,
the designer only grins.
Intelligent Design!

Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!
Making do will have to do ya
flim-flammers cooked this up to screw ya
Intelligent Design!

Sung to the tune of “Battle Hymn of the Republic”. Too funny.