PLEDGE NOW
Robert Green Ingersoll: The Great American Agnostic

Robert Green Ingersoll, the great American agnostic — and how his 1880s message resonates today.

Robert Ingersoll, between 1865 and 1880 (Library of Congress)

Robert Ingersoll, between 1865 and 1880 (Library of Congress)

Nearly a third of Americans under 30 now say they have no religious affiliation.  They might want to read the works of Robert Green Ingersoll.

He’s not as famous as Americans Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine in enshrining no religion.  But in the late 19th century, the country knew him well as The Great Agnostic – the free-thinking unbeliever who championed the secular face of America’s founding.

A new biography brings him back at an interesting moment.

This hour, On Point:  Ingersoll, the great agnostic, and American faith and freedom now.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Susan Jacoby, author, “The Great Agnostic: Robert Ingersoll and American Freethought.”

Dale McGowan, writes the secular parenting blog “The Meming of Life.” Author of “Parenting Beyond Belief” and the upcoming “Atheism For Dummies.” (@memingoflife)

From Tom’s Reading List

NPR “Attention American history buffs, here’s a name you might not have heard before: Robert Ingersoll. According to author Susan Jacoby, he was ‘one of the most famous people in America in the last quarter of the 19th century.'”

The New York Times “Attention American history buffs, here’s a name you might not have heard before: Robert Ingersoll. According to author Susan Jacoby, he was ‘one of the most famous people in America in the last quarter of the 19th century.'”The New York Times “This widespread misapprehension that atheists believe in nothing positive is one of the main reasons secularly inclined Americans — roughly 20 percent of the population— do not wield public influence commensurate with their numbers. One major problem is the dearth of secular community institutions. But the most powerful force holding us back is our own reluctance to speak, particularly at moments of high national drama and emotion, with the combination of reason and passion needed to erase the image of the atheist as a bloodless intellectual robot.”

Excerpt From “The Great Agnostic”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Aug 28, 2015
WDBJ-TV7 meteorologist Leo Hirsbrunner, right, wipes his eyes during the early morning newscast as anchors Kimberly McBroom, center, and guest anchor Steve Grant deliver the news at the station in Roanoke, Va., Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015. Reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were killed during a live broadcast Wednesday, while on assignment in Moneta. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

A deadly shooting on live TV. Wall Street’s roller coaster ride. Biden considers a White House bid. 10 years since Katrina.

Aug 28, 2015
Lightning first ignited the Meadow fire on July 20, 2014 in Yosemite. By September 8, the fire had charred 2,582 acres. Bernie Krause has recorded soundscapes of national parks destroyed by large areas of forest fires. Listen below.  (National Park Service)

A legendary natural sound collector shares his recordings. We’ll listen in.

RECENT
SHOWS
Aug 27, 2015
Amy Seek's memoir is "God and Jetfire: Confessions of a Birth Mother"

Open adoption. How one birth mother gave up her child for adoption and stayed in his life.

 
Aug 27, 2015
The slow-going struggle for mental health parity (Getty Images)

Insurance companies are required by law to cover mental health the same as physical health. So why don’t they?

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: August 28, 2015
Friday, Aug 28, 2015

You say #hashtag, we say, #forwhat? That, plus Usain Bolt and the ominous lurking Segway cameraman. Friday!

More »
Comment
 
Our Week In The Web: August 21, 2015
Friday, Aug 21, 2015

Do you even click? (And other reflections on link sharing and web commenting).

More »
6 Comments
 
Do You Recognize Amazon’s Workplace Culture? Tell Us!
Tuesday, Aug 18, 2015

Do you recognize the workplace conditions described in a recent New York Times piece on Amazon? We want to hear from you!

More »
5 Comments